Spartan volleyball team ace Sages at home match

Kennedi Burnett, Addie Roesch, and Shayne Immke combined effort produced 10 service aces to help the St. Joseph-Ogden volleyball beat visiting Illini Prairie rival Monticello in straight sets 2-0 on Tuesday evening.

Ashley Eldridge
Senior Ashley Eldridge pounds the ball for an SJO point during set one against Monticello. The Spartans took the first set easily, 25-7. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)
The Spartans jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the first set before Monticello used a timeout to regroup. Five points later, with the Sages looking at a ten-point deficit at 13-3, Monticello head coach Kim Allison called for another break.

Ranked 27th in Class 2A and 102 in the state by MaxPreps, SJO's defensive effort allowed just four more points in the 25-7 first set finish.

However, the start of the second set was not as pretty as the first set for the St. Joseph-0gden team coming off a 2-0 loss to Tri-Valley on Monday. Down 4-0 and plagued by inconsistent play, McDonald called timeout to allow her team to regroup.

When the set resumed, the Spartans carefully worked their way back into the game despite a streak of tenacious play from the Sages. The two teams would tie eight times, the last at 24-all. Two exchanges later, SJO prevailed 26-24 to win the match.

"It's been a bit of a rollercoaster. Some nights we're on. Some nights we've been off finding that leadership role, that determination to be able to finish and play consistent," said head coach Abby McDonald. "We hope that we are learning from these opportunities we've been given."

Roesch led the Spartan offensive effort with seven kills and two aces. Burnett added another four kills to the mix and led the team serving effort with five aces. Immke, with three aces, notched three kills and led the defense with 11 digs.

"I thought when the pressure was on they kept their composure," McDonald said. "That's something they have done well throughout the season. They don't get rattled. It was good for them to be able to finish in a tight set like that."

Despite a tough 25-14, 25-15, non-conference loss to the Vikings of Tri-Valley a little more than 24 hours earlier, McDonald was happy with how her team performed.

"We had a rough night last night," she added. "To be able to bounce back without practice and without time to really discuss some of the things we need to fix, I thought they did a nice job of finishing."

Becca Steinbach had 15 assists and was credited with three digs. Hannah Fox also delivered nine digs in the win.

"I am proud of the kids. There were a lot of distractions tonight and a lot of different emotions in this building," Abby McDonald said, referring to the Dick Duval scholarship fundraiser the team was also heavily involved in. An early estimate of $14,000 had been raised for the memorial scholarship to honor the former SJO educator and football coach. "I thought they handled themselves well, considering everything that was going on."

The SJO volleyball team plays again this week on Thursday against Salt Fork.