Spartans show their good side
ST. JOSEPH – The exploits of the previous seven seasons, when St. Joseph-Ogden averaged 27 volleyball wins a year, are a memory.
The current team will be unable to finish with an above-.500 record, but in a season which senior Cat Foreman calls "a roller-coaster ride," there have been moments where the successes of the past clearly still exist.
"I have seen glimpses of greatness," Spartans coach Chris Burton said.
"There were a few games," Foreman said, "where we played phenomenally."
The Spartans (10-19) had an above-average performance Tuesday, winning a Class 2A regional opener against Georgetown-Ridge Farm 25-18, 25-15.
SJ-O advances to Thursday's regional semifinals at Paxton-Buckley-Loda.
"We have the potential to play a lot better," Burton said, "but we're coming together at the right time."
In an up-and-down season, the Spartans found help from unexpected sources.
"We had two basketball players, Lindsey Barron and Erin Bensyl, come out a third of the way through (the season)," Burton said, "and they have really helped us out."
Both had played the sport in middle school, but neither Barron (a senior) nor Bensyl (a junior) had participated in volleyball in high school.
Barron had a match-high 14 digs against the Buffaloes (12-13) and Bensyl had four kills and three blocks.
"They've worked hard and have been a good fit," Burton said.
Foreman, who had four kills against G-RF, has seen a positive transformation in the Spartans this fall.
"Toward the beginning, we were not clicking, but we did a lot of team-building drills and now we trust each other," she said. "We're playing for each other."
SJ-O did not trail in either game against the Buffaloes, who started an all-senior lineup. The Spartans went ahead 4-1 in the first game and 7-1 in the second game.
"They served well (11 aces) and covered really well," G-RF coach Wayne O'Brien said. "We couldn't get anything started."
Tenneal Frerichs led SJ-O with 12 kills and three aces. Barron, Janna Buck and Rachael Graham all served two aces.
Next up for SJ-O is the region's top seed, undefeated Maroa-Forsyth (29-0). Thursday's match will start at 5 p.m. The championship match will begin at approximately 7:15.
"All of our kids are playing well," Burton said. "We knew we had to be patient. We had kids out (early) with injuries and sickness."
Down the stretch, the coach said, "Andrea Northen's defense has been outstanding and Cat Foreman's turned things around offensively."
G-RF was led by Rachael Everingham with 15 assists and nine digs. Dani Land had seven kills and four blocks, and Kaci Lierman had five kills. Land and Katherine Young, who had 10 assists, each served one ace.