SUNSET HILLS — The Lindbergh High girls volleyball team got healthy at the perfect time.
The Flyers had been missing freshman outside hitter Sophia Carlson for the last couple of weeks due to a shoulder injury. She came back with a vengeance on Monday night.
Carlson pounded home nine kills to lead a balanced offensive attack, and backed by a dogged defensive effort, Lindbergh swept top-ranked Oakville 25-22, 28-26 in a non-conference volleyball match.
“It felt great,” Carlson said. “It’s a big win because they’re the top-ranked team in our district.”
Carly Rodgers had seven kills, Andrea Jurcevic had four kills and three blocks and Ashley Ahrens had three spikes and three blocks as Lindbergh (22-6) won its 13th match out of the last 14.
Baillie Kearns had 26 assists as the Flyers snapped a five-match losing streak against the Tigers dating back to Sept. 9, 2015.
“Every point in that game was extreme energy and it was fun because we played as a team,” Rodgers said. “We were really just united during that game, which is a good feeling.”
Emily Schellhase had 10 kills and Regina Elguezabal had six kills for Oakville (25-2-1), No. 1 in the STLhighschoolsports large school rankings. Julia Klump had 20 assists for the Tigers, who had their 26-match undefeated string snapped.
Oakville hadn’t lost since its season opener on August 30. It hadn’t dropped a set since September 25.
“We came out a little bit flat,” Oakville coach Luke Allen said. “Things weren’t quite clicking for us and they were able to exploit our errors.”
Lindbergh carried the play throughout the first set. Carlson and Rodgers combined for 11 kills, but the Flyers' defense controlled the match.
“For about the last third of the season, I think we’ve been playing incredible defense,” Lindbergh coach Robert Langevin said. “We made some adjustments, called some JV players up, put some bigger blockers on the corner, on the pins and we knew they were going to dig the ball. We did the same thing to Eureka and we did the same thing to them tonight, dig every ball.”
Jurcevic, Megan Manaj, Carlson and Ahrens put up big blocks. Libero Grace Maloney was all over the court, frustrating the Oakville attackers.
“We’ve been trying out different lineups and the one we had tonight has been working for us,” Rodgers said. “We came in with extra motivation with them being the top-ranked team in our district. We just played hard.”
A Rodgers ace and a combination block from Jurcevic and Manaj gave Lindbergh a 20-16 lead. A Jurcevic kill gave the Flyers a set point and Kearns found Carlson for the set-winning spike.
“Having that extra outlet (Carlson) - she’s definitely up there as one of our top two best hitters,” Kearns said. “We love her.”
Oakville established Schellhase in the second set. She drove home three spikes in a 5-1 run to give the Tigers a 19-14 lead.
“We were kind of backing off on our play also,” Allen said. “I think there’s just a little bit of timidness, just because, ‘hey it didn’t work, let me try and tip or do something uncharacteristic,’ instead of just going out and being aggressive.”
Lindbergh stormed back and an Ahrens block gave the Flyers a 25-24 lead. Oakville fought off three match points before Rodgers finally came up with the game-winning kill.
“Their defense is absolutely amazing,” Kearns said. “No tips were open. I followed their middles, moved my way around it, trusted my hitters and that’s how we won that game.”
The teams are likely to see each other in the semifinal round of district play next week.
“We know they will be ready," Langevin said. "So we have to be ready.”