Jan. 5, 2000
Thur.-Fri., Jan. 6-7 UC Santa Barbara Collegiate All Day
Fri., Jan. 14 UC San Diego 7:00 p.m.
Sun., Jan. 16 San Diego State 3:00 p.m.
Season Outlook: The Stanford Cardinal will bring one of its youngest ever into the 2000 season. The Cardinal boast eight freshmen (Paul Bocage, William Curtis, Chris Lewis, Jon Palacios, Seth Ring, Kyle Strache, Billy Strickland, and Curt Toppel) on its roster to go along with six returning players (Curtis Graham, Brad Griffith, Josh Palacios, Marcus Skacel and Brett Youngberg). The Cardinal will look to rebound from a 10-12 record last season, which was only the second time under coach Ruben Nieves (1991-99) that Stanford concluded the season with fewer than 15 victories. The Mountain Pacific Sports Federation will once again push the Cardinal, as they taken on national powers UCLA, BYU, Long Beach State and Pepperdine, for a chance at the national championship.
Movin' To Maples: The Cardinal will change venues for the 2000 season, playing all 11 home matches at the 7,391 seat Maples Pavilion, home of Stanford women's volleyball and men's and women's basketball. The Cardinal played in the much smaller Burhnam Pavilion (1,200 seats) for the first 24 years of the program's existence. The Cardinal will open its home schedule with a match against UC San Diego on Friday, Jan. 14 at 7 p.m., followed by a 3 p.m. match against San Diego State on Sunday, Jan. 16.
Topple Talk: Curt Toppel (Pacific Palisades, Calif.), the nation's top-recruited player coming out of Malibu High School, brings his talents to the Cardinal for the new millennium. Toppel was named the Most Valuable Player of the Mission League, while garnering MVP honors at the Dos Pueblos Tournament. He also spent time in the international arena on various U.S. National teams, including the U.S. 18-&-under Junior Olympic team which went undefeated on its way to the gold last summer. Toppel's success in volleyball earned him recognition in Sports Illustrated's "Faces in the Crowd," Volleyball Magazine's Fab 50 list and Street Zebra Sports Magazine's Up and Coming Athlete. Toppel, a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do, was awarded the Outstanding Citizen Commendation by the Los Angeles City Council.
Injury Insight: The Cardinal will begin the season without the services of senior outside hitter Josh Palacios (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) and junior setter Brad Griffith (Scotts Valley, Calif.). Palacios had been suffering from chronic shoulder separations, which required surgery. As for Griffith, he tore ligaments in his knee during an exhibition match in November versus UC Santa Barbara. Griffith had surgery on the knee in late November and will be sidelined, along with Palacios, for three to six months.
New Rule: Used by international volleyball for the past year, the Libero will make its debut in collegiate menís volleyball in 1999. The rule change allows the coach of each team to designate a player that can substitute in and out of a match, as long as the player is in the back row, without restriction. Sophomore Markus Skacel will enter the season as maybe the most likely candidate for the position after playing Libero for the United States Junior National Team.
Season Tickets: Season tickets for the 2000 men's volleyball season can be purchased through the Stanford Ticket Office by calling 1-800 BEAT CAL between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tickets cost $40 for adults and $20 for children, seniors and staff.
Recruiting Report: Stanford inked three high school players to Letters of Intent during the signing period last November. The Cardinal will have the services of 6-8 setter Patrick Bomhack of Marquette University High school in Wisconsin, 6-4 outside hitter Billy Clayton of Newport Harbor High School and 6-4 setter Kevin Hanson from Corona del Mar High School.
UCSB Collegiate Invitational: The Cardinal will open the 2000 season with at the UC Santa Barbara Collegiate Invitational beginning Thursday, Jan. 6 and concluding on Friday, Jan. 7. Stanford, the sixth-seed, will open the tournament against 11th-seeded California at 9 a.m. and will play the winner or loser of the 14th-seeded La Verne and third-seeded UCSB match at 2 p.m. The tournament is a mix of varsity teams and university club teams. Only matches between varsity teams count towards records and season statistics.
Schedule Strength: When you combine a tough Mountain Pacific Sports Federation schedule and a trip to the Ball State tournament, Stanford once again possess one of the most grueling schedules in collegiate men's volleyball. The MPSF features such powerhouses as UCLA, Pepperdine and BYU, all contenders for the national championship. Stanford will travel to Ball State for matches against Lewis, which finished 1999 ranked No. 9, (Feb. 4) and the Ball State Cardinals (Feb. 5).
Television Broadcast: Stanford's match versus BYU on Wednesday, Jan. 19 will be broadcast on a tape delayed basis by Palo Alto Cable Co-op. The match, with Kirk Anderson providing the play-by-play and Stanford women's volleyball coach Don Shaw providing color analysis, will air on Friday, Jan. 21 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 23 at 8:30 p.m.
Head Coach Ruben Nieves: In his 10th season with the Cardinal, Ruben Nieves is Stanford's all-time winningest coach with a 153-70 (.690) record. In 1997, Nieves led the Cardinal to its first NCAA national championship en route to AVCA and Volleyball Magazine National Coach of the Year honors. Nieves has led the Cardinal to three 20-win seasons (1992, '94, '97), including a school-best 27-3 mark in 1997. Against MPSF opponents, Nieves has a combined record of 112-53 (.679) and his teams have captured conference titles in 1993, '95 and '97.