MOUNT VERNON – The NCAA Tournament-bound Rams loaded up on individual accolades Wednesday with the release of the 2013 All-Midwest Conference Volleyball Teams.
Senior outside hitter Kathleen O'Connor was voted MWC Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. She joined junior teammates Taylor Dicus (MB) and Kylea Weber (DS) on the All-MWC First Team. Junior middle blocker Katie Sickelka was tabbed to the second team.
The Rams' Jeff Meeker was selected MWC Coach of the Year for the second straight season.
O'Connor, of Waukegan, Ill., is the program's first player to earn first team all-conference honors four years (twice in the Iowa Conference). This is her third consecutive conference Player of the Year honor (IIAC in 2011).
O'Connor led the league in kills (4.17 kps), and ranked fourth in service aces (0.42 aps), eighth in hitting percentage (.253) and 10th in digs (3.64 dps). In 10 MWC regular-season matches, O'Connor's numbers climbed to 4.67 kills per set, .335 hitting and 0.60 aces. She was named MWC Offensive Performer of the Week three times.
O'Connor currently is seventh among all Division III players in points per set (5.03 pps) and 17th in kills. The program's record holder in kills (1,732), O'Connor has notched an MWC-best 16 double-doubles (kills-digs) on the season. She has reached double figures in kills in her last seven matches.
Dicus claimed first team all-conference honors for the third year in a row, becoming the fourth Ram to accomplish the feat. The Mount Vernon High School graduate finished No. 1 in the MWC in blocks (1.20 bps), No. 2 in hitting percentage (.338) and No. 10 in kills (2.65 kps).
Dicus took down Cornell's career record for total blocks this fall, currently with 427. She ranks 11th nationally in blocks per set. Dicus hit .414 and averaged 1.03 blocks in conference-only matches. She has posted at least five blocks on 12 occasions. Dicus was a two-time MWC Defensive Performer of the Week.
Weber was recognized on the MWC's first team for the second straight year, while gaining second team all-IIAC honors in 2011. The Mount Vernon native led the conference with 6.01 digs per set, which ranks 10th in Division III. A four-time MWC Defensive Performer of the Week, Weber also ranked sixth in the league in aces (0.38 aps).
Weber is enjoying a record-setting season in the back row. Last weekend, she broke Cornell's career mark for digs which currently stands at 1,830. With 607 digs this fall, Weber is the only player in school history to scoop 600 in back-to-back seasons. She has tallied at least 20 digs in 16 matches.
Sickelka, who prepped at Cedar Rapids Kennedy, gained her first all-conference award. She ranked sixth in the MWC in hitting (.274), a percentage that hiked to .310 in conference-only matches. Sickelka averaged 1.76 kills and 0.69 blocks.
Meeker picked up his fourth conference Coach of the Year honor in 12 seasons on the Hilltop. He won the award twice in the IIAC (2010, 2004), and now two times in the MWC. Meeker was also voted the top coach in Midwest Classic Conference in 1997, while at Iowa Wesleyan.
Meeker has the 20th-ranked Rams (28-3) back in the NCAA Division III Tournament for the third straight year. Cornell carries a 16-match winning streak into Thursday's regional quarterfinal against No. 6 St. Benedict (26-3) in St. Paul, Minn.
The Rams charged through the MWC regular season at 10-0 without surrendering a single set. The team swept Ripon and St. Norbert to claim the MWC Tournament crown. Cornell's current 90.3 winning percentage is best in school history, the 28 wins one shy of the program mark.