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MOUNT VERNON - He doesn't want just a talented player. He wants a role model.
Cornell volleyball coach Jeff Meeker has compiled 350 collegiate victories, but puts being a positive influence at the top of his players' to-do list.
'We define what it means to be a good teammate, community member and student, and we practice that,” Meeker said.
Meeker has coached the Rams to six Midwest Conference titles in his 15 years. He counts his success not by titles, but his players' mentality.
'We hustle, never give up, and have a positive mind-set,” junior setter Jillian Schulte said.
The Rams found success early this season, earning a national ranking, and it continued throughout the campaign. They take a 23-7 record into Friday's Midwest Conference tournament. The are the top-seed and host and play Grinnell (16-8, 5-4) at 7 p.m.
Libby Schnoor said all the hard work in the preseason had paid off. Cornell came into the gym with the mentality it was going to do something special this year.
That's a mentality Meeker has instilled in his players.
'One of the most important things is attitude, effort and being a great teammate,” Meeker said.
Schnoor, who also runs track and Cornell, said the Rams' team-first attitude is the reason behind their success.
'We can do much greater things, if we work together as a team,” Schnoor said.
Schnoor believes the time spent together on and off the court helps.
'We have an awareness of each other,” Schnoor said.
Going into conference play, Cornell had high hopes once again. The Rams finished league play at 9-0.
'It's fair to say we expected to win, but we never take it for granted,” Meeker said.
Now the focus turns to the tournament. The champion earns an automatic berth into the NCAA Division III tournament, something the Rams have done five of the last six seasons.
But Grinnell is tops on the Rams' mind Friday.
'We're going to need to play well to beat them,” Meeker said.
The other semifinal pits St. Norbert (12-15, 8-1) against Ripon (10-16, 5-4) Friday at 4:30 p.m. The championship game is set for Saturday at 1 p.m.
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