March 28, 2000
Fri., March 31 #3 Southern California 7:00 pm
Sat., April 1 #1 Long Beach State 7:00 pm
Back In Action: The Cardinal hope to rebound from its two losses in Hawaii at home this week against Southern California (3/31) and Long Beach State (4/1). The Cardinal are 5-3 at home this season, with three of those victories coming against ranked opponents. Led by sophomore Brook Billings, among the nation's leaders in kills per-game, the Trojans are second in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Pacific Division with a 16-4 overall and 11-3 MPSF record. Billings is averaging 6.41 kills per-game with the help of senior setter Donald Suxho's 18.14 assists per-game. USC is coming off a 3-2 victory over Ohio State (3/21) and a 3-0 loss to Long Beach State (3/25). Stanford will close out its 2000 home schedule against Pacific Division leader Long Beach State. The 49ers hold an 18-2 overall and 12-1 MPSF record heading into a March 31 match at Pacific. Junior David McKienzie leads the team with a 6.31 kills per-game average, while digging 2.55 balls per-game. Senior setter Chris Seiffert has reached the 1,000 assist plateau for the fourth time in his career by averaging 18.37 assists per-game this season.
National Statistics: Freshman middle blocker Curt Toppel led the nation in kills-per game average at 8.39 as of March 22. Toppel, who has led the nation for the entire season, has compiled 369 kills in 44 games for the Cardinal. After reaching the top 10 March 15, sophomore outside hitter Marcus Skacel dropped to No. 12 in digs-per game average at 2.57. Skacel has recorded 121 digs in 47 games. Junior setter Josh Lukens is ranked No. 2 in assists-per game with an 18.75 average on 994 assists in 53 games. Lukens trails Chris Pitzak of BYU , who has a 19.35 average.
Ranking Report: Stanford remained No. 13 in the latest USA Today/AVCA Top 15 released on March 28 by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. Stanford received 44 votes in the March 28 poll. Stanford opened the season ranked No. 14 and reached a season-high No. 12 on Jan. 18. Long Beach State received 240 points and 16 first place votes to remain the No. 1.
Down The Stretch: Still in the hunt for an automatic bid into the MPSF Championships, Stanford will play two of its final five matches of the season at home. The Cardinal will face Southern California (3/31) and Pacific Division leader Long Beach State (4/1) in 7 p.m. matches at Maples Pavilion. After two losses last week in Hawaii, Stanford has dropped into fourth place in the Pacific Division of the MPSF, one match back of Hawaii for the third automatic bid. However, the Cardinal are in a position to reach the post-season by way of an at-large selection. Two teams, in either division of the MPSF, with the best record at the end of the season will receive the bids. Stanford holds an edge over Pacific (6-8) and Loyola Marymount (6-7).
Quick Notes: Junior setter Josh Lukens became the third player in Cardinal history to reach the 3,000 assist plateau after recording 162 assists in two matches against Hawaii last week. Lukens (3,082 assists) joins Canyon Ceman (5,912) and Stewart Chong (5,144) as the only players to reach the milestone. Lukens has a chance to set a Cardinal single season record for assists per game after raising his average to 20.53. The mark would eclipse Canyon Ceman's 1994 record of 19.57 assists per game. Senior middle blocker Curt Toppel will likely set a single season record for kills per game with his current average of 8.53, which leads the nation. David Goss averaged 7.52 in 1992. In seven matches this season, Toppel has recorded 30 or more kills, including 48 and 42 kill performances. Sophomore outside hitter Marcus Skacel recorded a career-high 34 kills against Hawaii (3/24).
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.