MOUNT VERNON – The 22nd-ranked Rams moved one step closer to a second straight Midwest Conference volleyball title after scoring a 25-10, 25-17, 25-23 victory over Ripon Friday on Senior Night in the Small Multi-Sport Center.
Cornell climbed to 22-3 overall, 8-0 in the MWC with its 10th consecutive sweep. Meanwhile, Carroll (17-10, 7-1 MWC) swept Grinnell to remain just one game back of the Rams.
That sets up a Cornell-Carroll showdown Saturday at 11 a.m. in Mount Vernon. With a win, the Rams take the conference regular-season crown outright and earn the No. 1 seed in the MWC Tournament Nov. 8-9.
The Rams were sharp in the service game against the Red Hawks (13-13, 5-2 MWC). Cornell connected on 69-of-72 serves with 10 aces. Ripon went the duration without a single ace serve.
Freshman Katherine Devlin led the way with five aces on perfect 18-of-18 serving. Kathleen O'Connor and Kelsey Gaillot added two aces apiece.
Cornell fired five aces in a convincing opening-set win. The Red Hawks responded with a strong start in Set 2, building a 14-12 lead that prompted a Ram timeout. Cornell evened the score at 16-16, and then closed the set on a 9-1 run.
The Rams and Red Hawks went back and forth in an entertaining third set. Ripon grabbed its last lead at 19-18. Cornell tied it on a Taylor Dicus kill and took the lead to stay at 20-19 on a Red Hawk hitting error. The Rams finished the match on a kill from the outside.
O'Connor paced the Ram attack with 16 kills. Katie Sickelka and Dicus pitched in seven and six kills, respectively. Dicus also collected a match-high six blocks, including three solo. The Rams received 10 assists apiece from Sabrina Hargis, Devlin and Gaillot.
Junior libero Kylea Weber led all players with 23 digs. She went over the 1,700-dig mark for her career, currently with 1,713. Weber ranks second on the program's all-time list behind Amber Hein (1,816 digs, 2004-07).
Prior to the match, head coach Jeff Meeker recognized his six seniors in O'Connor, Jordan Weitzell, Maira Zuniga, Rebekah Byrne, Veronica Desangles and Melissa Kraker. The class has now compiled a four-year record of 87-37.