ST. JOSEPH – For the past month, the St. Joseph-Ogden volleyball team has been playing for its own success. Monday night they played for something bigger, and it showed.
Raising money for 4-year-old leukemia survivor Will Page, the Spartans jumped out in front early and swept Westville 25-8, 25-8 in nonconference action.
"We did a service project last year and the girls really responded to it, and when we found out about Will this year it was something everyone wanted to do," SJ-O coach Abby McDonald said.
The Spartans' draw to the young Page was immediate. The St. Joseph native had been dealing with leukemia for most of his short life. Currently in remission from the disease, Page's family has been stricken with thousands of dollars in chemotherapy and medical bills – bills the family's insurance doesn't cover.
McDonald and her team chose to hold a fundraiser for Page in place of "Volley for a Cure," the breast cancer fundraiser the team participated in last year.
"When we heard about his leukemia, everyone just wanted to help him," senior setter Janna Buck said.
The SJ-O program sold "Will Power" wristbands, gave out T-shirts and donated a portion of Monday's attendance profit to the Page family. The gift totaled more than $2,000, and didn't include other donations from the Spartans' other sports.
The event seemed to spark SJ-O (17-3) on the court as well. With a packed house cheering them on, the Spartans never trailed in an easy win.
"I think the crowd and the situation seemed to give us a better focus," McDonald said. "We knew we were in for a battle, but it was nothing like the battle he (Page) has to go through."
"This was a good cause and we were just trying to show our support," said senior Bria Olson, who led the Spartans with four kills and four aces.