Jan. 24, 2000
Fri., Jan. 28 at #2 Long Beach State 7:30 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 29 at #5 USC 7:00 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 19 #8 BYU L, 3-0 (6-15, 4-15, 11-15)
Sat., Jan. 22 #1 UCLA L, 3-0 (11-15, 9-15, 11-15)
Weekend Recap: The 12th-ranked Cardinal slipped to 2-2 (2-2 MPSF) this season after falling to eighth-ranked BYU and top-ranked UCLA in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation matches. Against the Cougars, Stanford played its shortest match of the season, falling 15-6, 15-4, 15-11. Sophomore outside hitter Marcus Skacel (Laguna Niguel, CA) had a season-high 16 kills despite the Cardinal hitting a season-low .224. Stanford played a hard-fought three-game match against the Bruins in front of a season-high 1,016 fans. Freshman middle blocker Curt Toppel (Pacific Palisades, CA) recorded his fourth 20-kill match of the season with 28 kills versus the Bruins. Junior setter Josh Lukens tallied a season-high 62 assists, while freshman outside hitter Seth Ring (Bend, OR) recorded 14 kills and a team-leading nine digs.
Is He For Real?: Touted as the top freshman in the country, middle blocker Curt Toppel (Pacific Palisades, CA) lived up to the billing in his first four collegiate matches, recording 20 kills in each match. Toppel had a season-high 29 kills versus UC San Diego and added a 28 kill performance against BYU last week. For the season, Toppel has 99 kills in 12 games for a 8.25 kills per-game average. Although it's only four matches into the season, Toppel's kills-per game average ranks first on Stanford's season list. David Goss recorded 7.52 kills per game in 1992.
Freshmen Influence: Curt Toppel isn't the only freshman making an impact on the Cardinal's early success. A total of seven freshmen have received playing time this season. In fact three, outside hitter Seth Ring (Bend, OR), middle blocker Kyle Strache (Malibu, CA) and Toppel, have started all four Cardinal matches. Freshman outside hitter Jon Palacios (Manhattan Beach, CA) has been the Libero in all four matches.
Attendance Increase: The Cardinal averaged 654 fans for the season-opening four-match home stand at Maples Pavilion which marks a seven year high for the first four matches of the season. Stanford drew 778 people against UC San Diego on opening night and a season-high 1,016 people versus UCLA last weekend. The highest four-match attendance mark to begin a season in the 1990s came in '92 when Stanford drew 895 fans per match. Stanford averaged 603 fans for the first four matches of 1989, the last season the Cardinal played in Maples Pavilion. Stanford played in Burhnam Pavilion from 1990-99.
Skacel's Story: Sophomore outside hitter Marcus Skacel reached the 100 dig and kill plateau for his career in the Cardinal's first four matches of the season. Skacel, who now has 135 kills in his career, earned his 100th kill versus UC San Diego on Jan. 14 and the milestone in digs against BYU on Jan. 19.
Scouting Long Beach State: Stanford's first opponent on the road this season will be second-ranked Long Beach State on Friday, Jan. 28. The 49ers are coming off a 15-1, 15-5, 15-1 victory over UC Santa Cruz on Saturday, Jan. 21 at home. Long Beach State has a 4-1 overall (1-0 MPSF) record and are led by David McKienzie's 114 kills in 16 games. Chris Seiffert has a team-leading 193 assists, while Mark Ekins has tallied 126. Long Beach State's only loss of the season came at the hands of UCLA, 3-2, at the West Coast Challenge in its first match of the season. Long Beach State won both matches against Stanford in 1999.
Scouting USC: The Trojans are 4-1 on the season and lead the Pacific Division of the MPSF with a 2-0 record. Southern Cal is ranked fifth by the AVCA and has two wins over 10th-ranked Penn State and one against ninth-ranked Loyola Marymount. For the season, Brook Billings has compiled 101 kills and 21 digs, while Donald Suxho has tallied 268 assists. USC won both matches against Stanford in 1999.
Quick Notes: Freshman outside hitter Curt Toppel opened the UCLA match with back-to-back service aces, giving Stanford an early 2-0 lead in game one... Toppel leads the team with five service aces... The Cardinal have yet to play a match longer than three games and matches have averaged 1 hour and 28 minutes in length... Junior setter Josh Lukens (San Diego, CA) reached the 2,000 assist milestone against San Diego State on January 16.
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. Entering the 2000 season, Nieves ranked fifth on the AVCA all-time win percentage list (.714) and 13th all-time in career victories with 145.