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Volleyball team revels in Senior Night victory

Emily Bigger and parents share an emotional moment during SJO's senior night
While her father Mark smiles holding one of her many mementos, Emily Bigger receives a kiss from her mother Melissa during SJO's senior night recognition on Tuesday prior to the start of volleyball team's final home match of the season. Bigger, a four-year volleyball veteran, is also involved in Spanish Club, FCA, National Honor Society and the school's Advisory Mentoring Program. She and eight other seniors received gifts and were thank for their contribution to program's success over the past four seasons. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
Lindsey Aden went out in style at her last home volleyball game. The senior delivered three aces in St. Joseph-Ogden's 2-0 victory over the visiting Olympia Spartans on Tuesday night. Notching their tenth consecutive win, the the maroon and Columbia blue clad Spartans now enjoy an impressive 25-4 record as the end of the regular season draws close.

Katelyn Berry, one of nine seniors honored earlier during the senior night recognition ceremony, lead SJO with a match-high 10 kills. The four-year veteran was also credited with three digs.

"It's so weird, so sad honestly," said Berry, who was multitasking between processing the first of many milestones of her senior year and celebrating her team's victory. "It felt good to get the win."

It was nearly an even matchup for first half of set one until the home team blasted seven unanswered points to go up 18-11. After allowing their opponent six more points, SJO closed out the set with a down-the-line boomer from junior Kennedi Burnett for a 25-17 finish.

"We started off slow, but came back," Berry said, analyzing the initial set. "We need to work on starting out stronger."

In a mirrored start of the first set, SJO dropped the first point of the second and let Olympia take a 3-1 lead. They led the contest for just three of the next 20 exchanges until the score reached 10-all.

"We kept our composure," said head coach Abby McDonald, whose program improved to 7-1, second in the Illini Prairie Conference behind St. Thomas More. "We played a mature match and we made it count when we need to."

Calmly and self-assured, McDonald's team turned up the intensity collecting five points for every one they relinquished to the visiting Spartans. Olympia called a timeout at 19-12 hoping the break would shift the momentum back to their side of the court, but it was too late.

Brodie Sullivan leads fellow football players and volleyball fans in singing Sweet Caroline before the start of St. Joseph-Ogden's last home match of the season. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Senior Katelyn Berry puts the ball away for kill
Senior Katelyn Berry puts the ball away during set two of SJO's home match against Olympia. SJO play their final conference match of the season at Monticello Thursday and start their postseason campaign next Tuesday at Oakwood High School. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
The Spartans were playing in the zone. In their happy place, Berry along with Burnett and Stephanie Trame, registered four kills for the last eight points of the match sealing their Illini Prairie Conference win, 25-14.

Burnett finished the contest with five kills, seven digs and two aces for SJO. Jenna Albrecht added another four kills and Emily Bigger racked up 24 assists. Fellow senior Kenly Taylor contributed five digs and an ace in their home court finale.

Olympia's offense was lead by junior Abby Stine and Bella Dickhut with four kills each. Kaelyn Leverson, a senior, had 20 assists. The Spartans fall to 4-4 in the conference and 15-13 overall on the season.

St. Joseph-Ogden, who have lost just one road match out of 13 this season, squares off next at Monticello (19-13) in the last IPC match of the season. The Sages boast a 7-1 record on their home court going into tomorrow night's contest.

McDonald is eagerly looking forward to the match in Monticello and competing in the annual Mt. Pulaski tournament this weekend. SJO will face Mt. Zion and Illini Central in pool play on Saturday morning.

"I think this group plays much better on the road."

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