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Volleyball - Tue, Oct. 1, 2013

MOUNT VERNON – The Rams have proven they can compete with the elite volleyball teams in the country. Now they are one of them.

Cornell made its program debut in the national rankings Tuesday, breaking through at No. 25 in the AVCA Division III Coaches Top 25 Poll. Coach Jeff Meeker's team received 70 votes, tying Williams for the 25th spot.

The Rams (13-3) were among teams outside the Top 25 receiving votes since the preseason. Last week they earned 46 votes for 30th overall.

Cornell is coming off a 3-1 performance at the Emory Tournament Sept. 27-28 in Atlanta, Ga. The Rams swept three teams – including votes-getter Randolph-Macon – and fell in five sets to fourth-ranked Emory (18-1).

Cornell has posted 3-0 sweeps against 10 of its 16 opponents this season. The Rams fell in four sets to No. 9 Washington-St. Louis on opening day, and lost in five sets Sept. 11 at Coe, which earned votes in this week's poll. 

The Rams field the Midwest Conference individual leader in kills (Kathleen O'Connor, 3.72 kps), blocks (Taylor Dicus, 1.19 bps) and digs (5.98 dps). As a team, Cornell is No. 1 in the conference in hitting percentage (.205), opponent hitting percentage (.112), kills (12.12 kps), service aces (2.05 aps) and digs (18.89 dps).

Cornell begins its MWC title defense Friday night at St. Norbert (6-12) in a rematch of last year's conference tournament final. The Rams head to Appleton, Wis., Saturday for matches against Lawrence and Lakeland.