DeKALB — With DeKalb staring a defeat in the face, Julia O'Brien recorded four consecutive kills to clinch a three-set victory over visiting Sycamore Monday (25-20, 26-28, 25-23).
After leading 10-6 in the third set, the Spartans roared back on Kylie Feuerbach's serve to a 12-10 lead. After trading blows the Spartans gained control on an Anna Carpenter kill, a Feuerbach attacking point and a Caylee Sharkey ace for a 21-16 lead.
After going up 23-18, the Barbs ripped off several straight points, and then O'Brien took control.
Off of Bella Finch's setting, O'Brien went on her roll while Dayton Gym reached a fever pitch.
“My coaches just tell me to be confident. I take that and I use it," O'Brien said.
A home loss to the Spartans last year lingered on the Barbs mind heading in.
“Last year we lost at home to them. That was really hard to deal with. It was nice to win," O'Brien said.
For coach Jamie DiMaggio-Hoscheit, she said the end result was a sign of things she had seen in practice.
"We have the players to be pretty big and do some big things. Mentally they’re a little bit down on themselves. They don’t think they’re as good as they are," DiMaggio-Hoscheit said. "It was fun to see Julia go back and take big swings instead of (tipping) the ball, instead of being nervous she went up and said no one is going to stop me and I'm proud of her for that.”
Finch, who recorded 28 assists, was serving on each of DeKalb's six final points in the victory.
“We just needed to focus on our team … when we were down, we were playing individually," Finch said. "We came together and we realized what we can do obviously. It does wonders.”
Kallie Siebrasse and O’Brien fed off one another during the Barbs attack in the first set, combining for 11 kills as the Barbs rolled their way to a victory.
DeKalb (4-4) had its chance to win the second set and the match with a 26-25 lead, but Sycamore’s Caylee Sharkey put away a kill to knot things back up, and the Spartans posted the next two points on Emma Winters’ serve to take the set.
“We lost it on serve receive. We were just getting down and we couldn’t get the serve up," Sharkey said.
The Spartans, who found themselves on a roll in the second set, were a bit more hesitant to attack toward the end.
“We just need to learn how to finish. That’s the biggest thing," Sycamore coach Jennifer Charles said. "When we get the ball up, we can’t be scared to go ahead and swing at a ball. When you’re up 23-20, you pretty much just have to put balls away.”
When the Spartans were finding success, they were getting the block up with consistency.
“We have a pretty big team, so we can be pretty good if we just close the block," Sharkey said.
By the numbers: Feuerbach and Sharkey each had six kills apiece. O'Brien and libero Katelyn Kolkebeck each recorded 12 digs. DeKalb's Kayli Hilliard posted six kills and two blocks. Siebrasse had 11 kills, four aces and seven digs.
Beyond the stats: With DeKalb trailing 23-19 in the third set, Florence Omodayo leaped toward the net for a 50-50 ball and poked it to the floor to keep Finch on a service run. The Barbs claimed every point the rest of the way.
They said it: “She’s (Kolkebeck) never been a libero before and she did not let one ball drop at the end. I just think it's crazy to see," DiMaggio-Hoscheit said.
Up next: Sycamore hosts Plano Tuesday. DeKalb welcomes St.Charles North to Dayton Gym Thursday.