Carlsbad girls volleyball upset knocks LCC out of top spot in Avocado West

Setter Anna Penman (#18) celebrates during Carlsbad's win over LCC.
(Ken Grosse)

How big was Carlsbad’s 3-1 (25-13, 16-25, 25-19, 25-18) girls’ volleyball triumph over La Costa Canyon Wednesday night? Aside from the Lancers improving their overall record to 25-4 and moving into second place tie with LCC at 4-2 in the Avocado West League, here’s what their junior setter Anna Penman had on her mind in the aftermath of last night’s contest.

“I never really thought I would be able to say that we beat LCC in my high school career,” said Penman, the home team’s leader and cheerleader on the floor. “We’ve beaten three teams this year—San Marcos, Canyon Crest and now, La Costa Canyon—that we haven’t been able to beat in the past.

“It’s been really eye-opening to see that we can finish, that we can win against good teams.” Lancer Head Coach Kristin Tomkinson also considered it a significant conquest for the program.

“They are a big program. I don’t know if I’ve ever beaten LCC as a coach and I’d have to look back in the records to see the last time Carlsbad High has beaten them,” said Tomkinson. “My guess would be it’s been a very long time.

“Our girls were very motivated, their energy was huge and it feels pretty good.”

Carlsbad had senior Alex Lougeay and her teammates on the defensive much of the match.
(Ken Grosse)

Facing a Maverick outfit that has the same enigmatic tendencies it often displayed last season, Carlsbad had a good scouting report, served tough and strategically, bent but didn’t break when LCC threatened and had the confidence and energy required to prevail in the big moments.

In the first set, the Lancers jumped out to an 8-3 advantage, LCC narrowed it to 10-8 but then got out-scored,15-5, in a Carlsbad set-winning blitz. La Costa Canyon steadied the ship in game two but the third game was another nightmare for the visitors. After trailing by six early, they got to within one twice, the second time at 17-16, only to see Carlsbad put on another late surge, tallying eight of the last 11 points. The Lancers came out on fire once more in the fourth set, taking a 5-1 edge behind a barrage of lethal serves. LCC pulled even at eight, quickly dropped back by five before knotting it one more time at 16 on back-to-back aces by junior Riley Dean. Once again, however, Carlsbad stiffened when it counted, rattling off eight points in a row, before winning a third set the same way it had its first two, without ever letting LCC get the lead.

“I think we were just mentally stronger tonight,” said Penman. “They started breaking down with their passing and hitting and we were able to stay consistent.”

Lancer sophomore Rylee Schulz pounded 13 kills.
(Ken Grosse)

As a team, the Lancers hit at a respectable .222 clip while LCC hit well below its standard at .071. Carlsbad sophomore Rylee Schulz accounted for a match high 13 kills and seven of her squad’s 15 aces. Senior Mackenzie Karnig chipped in with 10 kills and the senior duo of Erin Smith and China Rai Crouch combined for 12 total blocks.

On the other side of the outcome, second-year LCC Head Coach Rachel Morris seemed both baffled and frustrated by what she had seen from her team—the same unit that less than a month ago thoroughly stifled No. 1-ranked Torrey Pines, 3-0, on the road and came into Wednesday’s clash tied with the Falcons at the top of the league table.

“I’m super disappointed and that’s no knock on Carlsbad,” said Morris, whose club slipped to 19-12 overall. “They played fantastic, out-worked us and out-hustled us.

“My team played uncharacteristically and I think 90% of it is mental. We never seemed to find any energy or enthusiasm for part or any of it and Carlsbad had it all.”

LCC junior Taylor Putnam hits through the Carlsbad block.
(Ken Grosse)

In addition to its sub-par hitting percentage, LCC piled up 24 hitting errors and as the Lancers’ ace count would attest, struggled in the serve receiving department. A good indicator of the Mavs’ frustration came in the fourth set, when 26 points had been scored before they recorded their first kill. Senior Sophia Tulino was LCC’s kill leader with 10 and junior Riley Dean contributed four aces.

To add insult to injury, the La Costa Canyon loss put arch rival Torrey Pines in the driver’s seat in the race for the Avocado West title. The Falcons, 22-2 on the season, are 5-1 in Avo West action with wins over all five foes and just four matches remaining. They defeated Carlsbad, 3-0, at home in early September and the two schools will have a rematch next Wednesday on the Lancers’ home court.