Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Batty makes First-Team all-conference soccer team

All-IPC soccer player Kolton Batty Last week, Kolton Batty was one of three St. Joseph-Ogden soccer team members awarded Illini Prairie all-conference honors. The senior was the Spartans' only First-Team recipient.

Batty, the team's top defensive specialist who appeared in 25 games for SJO this season, scored one goal during several brief forays on the Spartan offense. He scored the only goal in his team's 6-1 loss to Iroquois West at the Cornjerker Classic. He took a total of 13 shots this season.

Also earning all-conference honors were goal keeper Hunter Ketchum (second-team) and Zac Seeley (honorable mention).

Ketchum spent 1,541 minutes defending St. Joseph-Ogden's goal. Only a freshman, he inherited keeper duties from Mason Behrens and finished the season with 145 saves at an average of 6.3 per game.

Seeley, a three-year varsity veteran, scored 11 goals this season and 21 total during his four seasons with SJO. The senior notched a hattrick in the Spartans' 5-1 win over Schlarman in September and recorded 3,066 minutes on the pitch during his career.

Monday, November 11, 2019

SJO stuns Chicago Christian to win Elite 8 title

Just as her older sister in 2016, Kennedi Burrnett will play volleyball on the state's biggest stage under the bright lights of Redbird Arena. The opportunity would not have been possible had it not been for St. Joseph-Ogden's smoldering turnaround midway into the second set of their supersectional match against Chicago Christian last Friday.

Jenna Albrecht and Lacey Kaiser share the thrill of victory with head coach Abby McDonald
Seniors Jenna Albrecht (left) and Lacey Kaiser celebrate their supersectional title win with head coach Abby McDonald.

After dropping the first set 25-15, the Spartans found their groove after a gritty 25-23 second set and playing the brand of volleyball that fueled 20 consecutive match wins, took the third set and the match, 25-16.

"We came out a little hesitant," said Burnett, who like her sister Abby, will play on a final four Spartan volleyball team for the coveted Class 2A state title. "But then we just jumped back into it. We knew this is what we were waiting for all year. We just kept it together."

Burnett tallied a team-high 11 kills. She also came up big defensively with nine digs and two blocks for the Spartans.

"I think my nerves got into my head a little bit," said outside hitter Katelyn Berry. She was confident that her teammates would do what was needed to get the win, but to secure the win she had to step up her game. "I knew for my team I had to make a change."

The timidity felt by the Spartans in the opening set was both palatable and warranted by the way the Chicago Christian's six-foot, one-inch outside hitter Lia Moore was pounding the ball into the back court. The Michigan State recruit, who will become a Spartan herself next fall, couldn't miss.

Another six-footer for the Knights, Logan Grevengoed and the 5-foot-11 Delanie Grevengoed formed a wall above the tape the Spartan could not penetrate easily.

"I thought our opponent did a great job of keeping us out of system," said head coach Abby McDonald. The pace of the rallies was faster than what she and her assistant coaches saw in the film they had at their disposal. "It was really fast and intense. We were on our heels on defense."

Libero Rylee Stahl celebrates a block with teammates.
Rylee Stahl celebrates a point for the Spartans. The senior libero had a team a team-high 19 digs to lead SJO into the Class 2A final four. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)
Leading up to a 17-all score in the second set, the score between was tied seven times with the Knights scoring the go-ahead point.

On the eight tie, SJO surged ahead ticking off three unanswered points to get to a 20-17 tilt before Knights' head coach Karen Van Assen called a timeout.

McDonald used the break to inspire her players.

"She just told us to forget about that set. We've been there before and we know how to come back from that," Berry recounted. She was held to just six kills by the Knights. "We know how to come back from that. A new set is a new set."

Holding on to win the second set would put the final match outcome in SJO's favor. Prior to the supersectional, out of the seven three-setters this season, SJO took the match in all but two. The Spartans lost to St. Thomas More and St. Teresa, who will also play a semifinal on Friday, in deciding third sets. SJO won their last five extended matches and the odds were dramatically in their favor if they finish the second set with a win.

"Honestly, I felt Katelyn did really well," senior Stephanie Trame said about Berry's overall performance. "She had a great attitude when she was blocked. She didn't let it get in her head."

Trame was contributed seven of the SJO's 34 match kills.

"We had more energy in the second set and started playing as a team," she added. "We found ourselves."

With their confidence continuing to swell and the combined defensive leadership of Rylee Stahl and Emily Bigger, St. Joseph-Ogden pulled out the second set, 25-23. At libero, Stahl keep the ball in play with a team-high 19 digs. Bigger had 16 and made 26 passes. In one of their best defensive efforts of the season, SJO players combined for 70 digs in the three-setter.

Payton Vallee bouyed the Spartans on both offense and defense as well. In addition to her two digs, the junior along with senior Lacey Kaiser, who notched 8 digs, were co-leaders in blocks at the net with three apiece. Vallee also put away six well-placed kills in the supersectional effort.

Emily Bigger and Stephanie Trame get their hands up
Emily Bigger and Stephanie Trame get their hands up to deflect a shot by Chicago Christian's Olivia Ingelse during first set action on Friday at Chicago Christian High School. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)
"We went into the third set with a lot of momentum," McDonald said. "We were in their heads offensively and defensively. They were having to think about every touch on the ball."

Her team jumped out to a modest 4-1 lead to open the final set. Chicago Christian worked their way out of the deficit to tie the game at 4-4 thanks to an ace.

SJO immediately got a sideout and took the lead. They pieced together a five-point run forcing the Knights to burn a timeout staring 9-5 deficit.

When the action resumed, the Spartans continued to exploited the hole it found in the hard-hitting Chicago Christian armor and increased the scoring gap by eight points to 19-11.

"We've got three kids that can swing. We've got a defense that is quick and aggressive," McDonald said about the momentum shift. "I just thought that once we got going and our kids gained some confidence and knew we could compete with them. I knew we could pull it out."

Eleven serves later, the SJO contingent - players, fans and parents - were celebrating a well-deserved victory.

"There are just so many emotions right now," Burnett said. "I'm just so excited. I'm blessed to be with all these people on the court and I couldn't be happier."

Memory Monday: St. Joseph-Ogden wins state semifinal over Althoff Catholic

Senior Park Francisco
(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Parker Francisco (left) and Bree Trimble celebrates a point for the Spartans during game one of their state semifinal contest against Althoff Catholic back on November 11 in 2016. The Crusaders jumped out a 5-0 lead and never looked back in the set to spanking SJO, 25-10. However, Francisco, who would finish the first day's battle with 10 kills and 5 digs, and the St. Joseph-Ogden volleyball team let loose and rallied back to take the next two sets advancing to the Class 2A title game against Eureka.

With this year's SJO volleyball team heading to Redbird Arena later this week to once again compete for the Illinois High School Association's state champion trophy, today's Memory Monday looks back to the volleyball program's final four opener three years ago. In addition to the ten images below, there are 100 more photos from this match here: PhotoNews RAW Collection. Also visit the gallery later this week for more photos from the semifinal match and PhotoNews Media's coverage from the 2016 title game against Eureka.

Jannah Mullen celebrates a third set point for SJO
Oh, yeah!
Jannah Mullen celebrates a point for the Spartans in the final set against the Crusaders. After dropping an ugly first set to Althoff, the Spartans take the final two 25-18, 25-8. Mullen served the team's only ace of the game and finished the Friday semifinal credited with three digs.

(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)


Bree Trimble passes the ball to the front row in game one. The sophomore contributed nine digs and two assists in the Friday afternoon victory three years ago today. The Spartans shook off the first set loss and won the next two to take the match and improve their season record to 31-3.

(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Bree Trimble

SJO student fans cheer for their team during set 2.
Members of St. Joseph-Ogden's Maroon Platoon cheer for the volleyball team during second set action. With only four kills in the first set, the student cheering section didn't have much to cheer about. However, their team stormed back to pound 32 bombs in the last two sets to punch their ticket into Saturday's title match against the Eureka Hornets. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Head coach Abby McDonald Senior Kylie Michael celebrates a point for the Spartans
Left: SJO head coach Abby McDonald realigns her players on the floor during set one of SJO's match against Althoff. Right: Senior Kylie Michael leaps with excitement after another point for SJO. Michael led the Spartan offense with at match-high 18 kills and 12 digs. A redshirt freshman during the 2018 season at Eastern Illinois University, she played 68 sets to finish the season with 132 kills along with 115 digs and 26 blocks. (Photos: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Jannah Mullen makes a dig for SJO in 2016
Jannah Mullen lunges to make a dig and keep the ball in play during second set action. She was one of six seniors on the 2016 squad that would go on to place second in Class 2A. Mullen continued her volleyball career at Lakeland College where as a sophomore last year she was named second-team All-Region. She led the team with 520 digs, 19th in NJCAA Division I last November. Check the gallery, online for a limited time only, for more than 100 other photos from this match here: PhotoNews RAW Collection (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Parents and SJO fans cheer for their team during at timeout
St. Joseph-Ogden parents and fans cheer for their team during a timeout in the second set. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Parker Francisco goes up for a block at the net
Reaching for greatness

Parker Francisco leaps above the net to block a Eureka kill attempt. The two-sport athlete's leadership was key in the Spartans advancing to the Class 2A title match on Saturday at Redbird Arena.

(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Bree Trimble and Kylie Michael celebrate with hugs
Spartans Bree Trimble and Kylie Michael share a hug after the conclusion of their third set against the Hornets and with the realization that in 24 hours SJO will be playing for the program's first-ever volleyball state championship title on Saturday. For a limited time only, see more than 100 photos from this match and the championship game later this week at PhotoNews RAW Collection. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

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