April 21, 2000
Sat., April 22 at #2 Pepperdine 7:00 pm
MPSF Championship Tournament
Back In Action: #11 Stanford (10-12) is back in action on Saturday, April 22 when they travel to #2 Pepperdine for the first round of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championship. The Cardinal received an at-large bid into the tournament after an 9-10 MPSF regular-season record, placing fourth in the Pacific Division. In their only other meeting of the season, Pepperdine won a four game match, 15-10, 14-16, 15-11, 15-12, at Maples Pavilion on February 17. Pepperdine is the No. 1 seed in the Mountain Division after finishing the season with a 20-4 overall and 16-3 record in the MPSF.
National Statistics: Freshman middle blocker Curt Toppel concluded the regular-season as the nation's leader in kills-per game at 8.78. Toppel was the leader in kills-per game average in all nine ranking periods. His average was helped by the fact that he had 30 or more kills in 10 matches this season, including two matches with 48 kills and a 50 kill performance in Stanford's upset over then-No. 1 Long Beach State. In digs per game, sophomore outside hitter Marcus Skacel finished No. 19 in digs-per game average at 2.38. Skacel had been as high as No. 10, at 2.57, in the fifth edition of the NCAA national rankings. Junior setter Josh Lukens also finished the season as the national leader in assists-per game. Lukens, who is the only player to appear in all 77 Cardinal games this season, dished-out a career-high 20.29 assists-per game.
Ranking Report: Stanford is ranked a season-high No. 11 in the latest USA Today/AVCA Top 15 released on April 18 by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. Stanford received 64 votes in this weeks poll. Stanford opened the season ranked No. 14 and reached a then-season-high No. 12 on Jan. 18. Southern California moved into the No. 1 spot, receiving 10 first place votes and a total of 231 points.
Stanford Records: Several Stanford players made an impact on Cardinal single-season, match and career record lists. Curt Toppel's 50 kill performance against Long Beach State is third best for a single match, while his 48 kill performance is tied for sixth best. Toppel's 8.78 kills-per game average place's him ahead of Dave Goss on the career and single-season lists. Goss had a 6.56 average for his career, with a season-high average of 7.52 in 1992. Josh Lukens now has 3,540 assists for his career, ranking third behind Canyon Ceman's (1991-94) 5,912 and Stewart Chong's (1994-97) 5,144 assists. However, Lukens now holds the single-season record for assists at 20.29, overtaking Ceman's 1994 average of 19.57. Marcus Skacel is now sixth on the single-season digs list at 2.38 per game and fifth on the all-time list with a 1.81 average.
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 on March 24-25. Lukens (3,082 assists) joins Canyon Ceman (5,912) and Stewart Chong (5,144) as the only players to reach the milestone... The Cardinal had seven freshmen that played 29 or more games, with four making a significant number of starts. Seth Ring and Jon Palacios, both redshirt freshmen, led all freshmen with 69 games played... 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.