Cornell’s volleyball team dominated Wednesday’s list of 2012 All-Midwest Conference selections in the same manner it did in 12 league matches to secure regular-season and tournament titles.
The Rams landed a conference-best four players on the All-MWC Teams and swept the two individual awards with junior outside hitter Kathleen O’Connorvoted Player of the Year and Jeff Meeker honored as Coach of the Year.
Sophomore libero Kylea Weber and sophomore middle blocker Taylor Dicus, both Mount Vernon High School graduates, joined O’Connor on the league’s eight-player first team. Sophomore setter Sabrina Hargis garnered second team accolades.
Cornell’s four all-conference honorees tied the 1988 MWC championship squad for the most in a season. The Rams fielded the only three non-seniors on this year’s MWC first team.
O’Connor became just the third Ram to claim all-conference volleyball honors three times in a career, joining current assistant coach Tina (Naaktgeboren) Brooker (1988-90) and Robin Dye (1983-84, 1986). O’Connor was Player of the Year in the Iowa Conference in 2011.
Meeker claimed his fourth career Coach of the Year award – in three different conferences. He was recognized twice in the IIAC (2010, 2004) and once in the Midwest Classic Conference in 1997 while at Iowa Wesleyan.
O’Connor finished second in the MWC in kills (3.80 kps) and fourth in services aces (0.42 aps). The 6-foot Waukegan, Ill., native hit .234 with 291 digs (2.77 dps) and 57 total blocks (0.54 bps). O’Connor has collected 14 double-doubles (kills-digs) and tallied at least 10 kills in each of her last 17 matches.
O’Connor delivered 20 kills and 12 digs in Cornell’s four-set win over St. Norbert in the MWC Tournament Final Nov. 3 in Mount Vernon. In 10 MWC regular-season matches, she compiled a .284 attack percentage and 3.97 kills per set.
Weber, the backbone of Cornell’s defense, led the conference with 5.90 digs per set. Her 620 total digs rank third on the program’s single-season list. In MWC play, Weber averaged 5.06 digs and had only three reception errors in 153 attempts.
Weber totaled 25 digs in a sweep of St. Norbert that clinched the MWC regular-season title Oct. 27. She followed that up with 24 and 27 digs in two MWC Tournament matches. Weber has topped the 20-dig mark 14 times this season.
The 6-2 Dicus was a force in the middle, averaging a league-high 1.31 blocks per set. She ranked second in the MWC in overall attack percentage (.270), while hitting at a whopping .377 clip in conference-only matches. Dicus is second on the team with 262 kills (2.50 kps).
Dicus, who also gained first team All-IIAC status in 2011, hit .469 with 17 kills in powering the Rams to an MWC Tournament semifinal sweep of Monmouth Nov. 2. She recorded at least five blocks in six of the 12 matches against league foes. Dicus’ 138 total blocks and 110 block assists both rank second in a single season at Cornell.
Hargis was dynamic from the service line, firing an MWC-best 0.46 aces per set. She ran the Ram offense to the tune of 779 assists (7.42 aps), ranking fifth in the conference. Hargis averaged 0.81 aces and 8.23 assists in MWC-only matches.
Hargis whistled six aces in the Oct. 27 meeting with St. Norbert, and had 13 other matches in which she recorded multiple aces. She set a season high with 54 assists at Carroll Oct. 19. Hargis has posted seven double-doubles (assists-digs), including a 43-assist, 16-dig effort in the MWC Tournament Final.
Meeker guided the Rams (20-10 overall) to a perfect 10-0 MWC record in the program’s first season back in the league since 1996. The team went on to capture the conference tournament crown – its first MWC title since 1988 – and earned its second consecutive trip to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Meeker’s squad ranked first or second in the MWC in all major statistical categories, including a league-best .210 hitting percentage and 1.87 aces per set.