Tied for third in the Cowapa League standings with 1-3 records is not where the Astoria and Seaside volleyball teams expected to be, heading into the second half of the league season.
But that’s where the two rivals found themselves Thursday night at the Brick House, for match No. 5 of the eight-match league schedule.
The winner would find itself right back in the race for second place, while the loser will have some catching up to do.
Astoria’s Kes Sandstrom hammered out 16 kills, and the Fishermen completed their regular season sweep over the Gulls with a three-game sweep, 25-19, 25-21, 25-16.
Astoria improves to 2-3 in league, while Seaside drops to 1-4.
The win comes five days after Seaside defeated Astoria in a best two-of-three match in a tournament at Hood River.
While the Gulls had a win Tuesday over Banks (which swept sixth-ranked Tillamook on Thursday), the Fishermen had the day off, giving Astoria an opportunity to re-group.
“We had a bye (Tuesday), and that gave us a chance to sort of re-focus and prepare ourselves,” said Astoria coach Jessie Todd. “This can definitely give us some momentum. It was a good way to start the second half of league.”
The Fishermen led from start to finish in Game 1, building a 13-5 lead behind some early kills and a block by Kelsey Fausett, a cross-court shot from Taja-Rae Tuimato, and Tuimato’s sets to Halle Helmersen and Kes Sandstrom for kills off the block.
Seaside battled back to within 15-13, but Astoria outscored the Gulls 10-6 from there, with Tuimato setting Julia Norris for a kill at game point.
The Gulls held their only leads in Game 2, at 6-4, 7-5 and 9-7.
Astoria charged back with long serving runs by Helmersen and Norris, who turned a 16-12 lead into a 22-12 advantage, capped by two straight kills from Fausett.
“Kelsey is playing very confident and very sure of herself,” Todd said. “She’s playing good defense and reading the ball really well.”
Fausett finished with 26 digs and six kills.
Again, the Gulls rallied in Game 2 and pulled to within 23-21 after a pair of Astoria attacks sailed over the back line, coupled with an ace by Tori Tomlin and Anna Huddleston’s set to Ellisa Blodgett for a kill.
But Astoria called a timeout to regroup, scored the next point and won a long rally at game point for a two-match lead.
The third game was never close, as Hailey O’Brien’s long serving run helped the Fishermen grab a 14-3 lead.
The Astoria advantage reached 23-12, after a cross-court kill by Fausett, an off-speed shot by Kajsa Jackson, and Sandstrom’s “thunder kill,” as described by public address announcer Dan Foss.
Big saves and digs by both teams led to several long rallies — most of which were won by Astoria.
“It’s clear that both teams are conditioned for that, and tonight we pushed each other into some pretty long rallies,” Todd said. “(The rallies) got a little intense, and they’re a little sweeter when you get the point.”
Astoria’s Kajsa Jackson had eight kills and three blocks, while O’Brien finished with 26 digs and five ace serves. Julia Norris added 17 assists, Halle Helmersen had 21 digs, and Tuimato had 14 assists.