October 28, 2021 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

Bigger, Vallee lift SJO volleyball back on winning track

The St. Joseph-Ogden High School volleyball team responded the right way after an emotional, close loss last Thursday night to St. Thomas More.

With two convincing road wins.

The visiting Spartans easily defeated Rantoul 25-16, 25-7 on Tuesday night in Illini Prairie Conference action, which came 24 hours after a resounding 25-9, 25-10 nonconference win at Gibson City-Melvin Sibley on Monday night.

The two-match win streak the Spartans are on comes after a tough 25-21, 20-25, 20-25 home loss to STM last Thursday in Illini Prairie play.

The Spartans (17-4, 1-1 Illini Prairie) will look to keep their winning ways intact when they host Bloomington Central Catholic at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in league play, the only home match in the next week for SJO.

Senior Emily Bigger was an offensive catalyst for SJO against Rantoul, distributing 20 assists as three Spartans compiled at least six kills. Sophomore Kennedi Burnett had a team-high eight kills, while senior Katelyn Berry and junior Payton Vallee each posted six kills. Burnett (nine digs), senior Lacey Kaiser (seven digs) and Berry (five digs) chipped in defensively.

In the win against GCMS, Bigger directed the offense to the tune of 20 assists, while she also made seven digs and served four aces.
Vallee, Burnett and Berry sparked a balanced offensive showing, with the trio registering six kills apiece.

Burnett powered a team-high 13 kills and Berry also finished with double figures in kills by supplying 10 against STM, but the Sabers rallied past the Spartans during the final two sets. Bigger handed out 32 assists, while Kaiser (eight kills, seven digs), Berry (eight digs) and Burnett (eight digs) also contributed significantly.

After Wednesday night’s home match against Bloomington Central Catholic, the Spartans are off until a 7 p.m. nonconference match at Tri-Valley next Monday. The Spartans then have three other matches scheduled for next week: 7 p.m. on Oct. 8 at rival Unity, 7 p.m. on Oct. 10 at home against Pontiac and at noon on Oct. 12 at home against Chillicothe Illinois Valley Central.

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