April 14, 2024 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

McDonald on cusp of 400th win as SJO volleyball continues success

A historic night is potentially on tap Monday at St. Joseph-Ogden High School.
SJO volleyball coach Abby McDonald, in her 16th season leading the Spartans, is one win away from 400 career victories. She could hit that elusive mark on Monday when SJO (11-2) hosts Hoopeston Area in a nonconference match scheduled to start at 7 p.m.


If SJO gets the win on Monday night, a celebration is planned to honor McDonald at SJO after the match.


McDonald started coaching SJO in 2008 and has guided the Spartans to at least 20 wins in every full season. The only time she didn’t hit that successful mark was during the 2021 spring condensed schedule when SJO still went 17-3.


The Spartans have won nine regional titles, two sectional titles and have made two state tournament appearances under McDonald, with the 2016 team placing second in state in Class 2A and the 2019 team winding up third in state in 2A. The 2019 team also set a single-season win record for a team coached by McDonald when the Spartans finished 37-5.


This season’s Spartans are off to another superb start, with SJO winning seven of its last eight matches going into Monday night’s match with the Cornjerkers. Here’s a roundup of what the Spartans have accomplished on the court in the last two weeks:

Spartans place second in Mattoon
SJO wound up going 4-1 and finishing second at the Mattoon Tournament on Sept. 2. The Spartans beat Pana in three sets before finishing off sweeps of Mt. Vernon and Mattoon in pool play before SJO swept Warrensburg-Latham in the semifinals but lost in two sets to Taylorville in the championship match.


Senior Addie Roesch received tournament MVP honors after she collected 48 kills, 31 digs, five assists, four aces and three blocks in the five matches. Fellow senior Peyton Williams joined Roesch on the all-tournament team after she compiled 36 kills, 32 digs, five aces, two assists and one block.
Fellow seniors Halle Brazelton (95 assists, 36 digs) and Helene Jones (nine blocks, 11 kills) were also instrumental on the day for SJO.

Facing quality competition
SJO started the season 4-0 following a 25-23, 25-12 win at St. Teresa on Aug. 28 that saw Williams record 11 kills, Roesch contribute eight kills, Brazelton nearly pull off a double-double of 20 assists and nine digs and senior Sadie Ericksen making five digs to go with two aces.
SJO sustained its first loss the next night on Aug. 29, with Mahomet-Seymour leaving St. Joseph with a 25-21, 25-15 victory. Williams (seven kills, seven digs), Roesch (five kills, three aces) and Brazelton (13 assists) paced the Spartans against the Bulldogs.
SJO, however, didn’t let one loss become two in a row by defeating Teutopolis 22-25, 25-21, 25-15 on the road on Aug. 31. Roesch (16 kills, seven digs), Williams (11 kills, six digs), junior Reese Wheatley (six blocks, three kills), Brazelton (31 assists, eight digs) and Ericksen (seven digs) all had vital roles in the win against the Wooden Shoes.

Strong efforts last week
The Spartans went on the road last Tuesday and came home with a 25-23, 21-25, 25-20 win at Tri-Valley. Roesch (eight kills, nine digs), Williams (six kills, five digs), Jones (four blocks) and Brazelton (16 assists, eight digs) led the winning effort.
SJO had a much easier time the next night, with the host Spartans defeating Oakwood 25-20, 25-7. Williams (11 kills) and Brazelton (13 assists, six digs) led SJO in the sweep.

What’s next
After Monday night’s home match against Hoopeston Area, the Spartans have two more matches remaining this week. A nonconference home match against Danville is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday before the Spartans begin Illini Prairie Conference play at 7 p.m. Thursday at St. Thomas More.

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