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

Stahl, Bigger keep SJO volleyball on roll ahead of final home match

The St. Joseph-Ogden High School gymnasium has treated the SJO volleyball team well this season.

And on Tuesday night, the Spartans will get to keep up their superb regular season — while giving their seniors one last chance to play on their home court — when SJO hosts Olympia at 7 p.m. It’s the final regular-season match in St. Joseph for SJO, which is slated to play at Monticello at 7 p.m. on Thursday and conclude the regular season this Saturday at the Topper Tournament in Mt. Pulaski.

SJO (24-4, 6-1 Illini Prairie) sports a 9-3 record at home this season and has won its last four home matches. All told, SJO carries a nine-match win streak into this week and has yet to lose in October.

The latest wins happened last week, with SJO defeating Fisher 25-7, 25-3 in nonconference action last Wednesday at home and beating Prairie Central 25-12, 25-11 last Tuesday in a road Illini Prairie match in Fairbury.

Senior Katelyn Berry supplied a team-high seven kills against Fisher, while senior Lacey Kaiser, junior Payton Vallee and sophomore Kennedi Burnett each compiling four kills. Senior Emily Bigger handed out 19 assists, while the serving of senior Rylee Stahl (seven aces) and Kaiser (five aces) played a crucial role in the easy sweep by SJO. Burnett chipped in defensively with five digs.

Burnett finished with six kills and eight digs against Prairie Central, while Bigger (19 assists, eight digs, three aces) and Stahl (11 digs) also contributed to the two-set win.

Along with Berry, Kaiser, Bigger and Stahl, five other seniors in Jenna Albrecht, Lindsey Aden, Kenly Taylor, Stephanie Trame and Anna Wentzloff will play their last home match for SJO on Tuesday night.

Once the regular season ends on Saturday for SJO, the Spartans will turn their attention to the postseason. The Spartans are the top seed in the Class 2A Oakwood Regional and will play either No. 8 Oakwood or No. 10 Westville — those two teams are slated to meet at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 28 in a regional quarterfinal match — at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 29 in a regional semifinal match.

The regional championship match is set for 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 31. Tuscola, the seventh seed, plays Georgetown-Ridge Farm, the 11th seed, at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 28 in a regional quarterfinal match.

The winner of that match moves on to play No. 4 Monticello at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 29 in the second regional semifinal match, with the two regional semifinal winners meeting in the regional final.

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