January 27, 2022 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

Berry, Bigger help power SJO volleyball to five straight wins

Heading into Thursday night’s home showdown with St. Thomas More, the St. Joseph-Ogden volleyball team has won five straight matches.

All by sweeps, too.


The latest victory happened with a 25-16, 25-20 nonconference win at Maroa-Forsyth on Tuesday night. Senior Katelyn Berry powered down nine kills to lead SJO’s offense, while senior Emily Bigger handed out 21 assists. Sophomore Kennedi Burnett (eight digs) and senior Lacey Kaiser (three aces) also chipped in for the Spartans (15-3) during their second consecutive road win this week.

Prior to Tuesday, the Spartans won 25-19, 25-20 in a nonconference match at Urbana on Monday night.

Berry and Burnett sparked the offensive charge for SJO, compiling six kills apiece against the Tigers. Kaiser wasn’t far behind, either, with five kills.

Bigger distributed 17 assists and made four digs to go along with two kills, while Berry (nine digs) and Burnett (eight digs) also helped out defensively in addition to their offensive accomplishments.

Senior Rylee Stahl (seven digs) and Kaiser (five digs, two aces) also chipped in.

The road win on Monday night was preceded by a 25-13-, 25-13 home nonconference win against Danville last Wednesday and a 25-13, 25-19 home nonconference victory against Paxton-Buckley-Loda on Sept. 17.

A balanced offense carried SJO against Danville, with Burnett and Kaiser each tallying six kills, while Berry and senior Jenna Albrecht each delivered four kills. Berry led the Spartans with 10 digs, while Burnett made eight digs, Stahl pitched in with six digs and Kaiser and Bigger each produced five digs. Bigger directed the offense by handing out 16 assists and serving two aces.

Kaiser, Berry and Burnett shined offensively against PBL. Kaiser registered a team-high nine kills, while Burnett and Berry each finished off seven kills. Bigger was active passing the ball, finishing with 26 assists to go along with five digs and three kills. Burnett (nine digs), Berry (seven digs), Kaiser (six digs), senior Lindsey Aden (six digs), Stahl (five digs) and junior Payton Vallee (four digs) all aided the defensive effort by the Spartans.

The 7 p.m. home match on Thursday against STM marks the first Illini Prairie Conference match for SJO, which is off the rest of the week. The Spartans get back in action at 7 p.m. next Tuesday at Rantoul before hosting Bloomington Central Catholic at 7 p.m. on Oct. 3 in a pair of Illini Prairie matches. Nine of SJO’s 10 final regular-season matches before the season-ending Topper Tournament at Mt. Pulaski are Oct. 26 will be Illini Prairie matches.

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