It was game, set and another big catch for the Astoria Lady Fishermen Thursday night, as the volleyballers of the Brick House outlasted another big opponent.

Astoria – rated fourth in the state in the latest OSAA power rankings – defeated sixth-ranked Banks in five intensity-filled, exhausting games, 27-25, 25-18, 19-25, 23-25, 17-15.

The Lady Fish finish the first half of league play with a perfect record: Five matches, five wins, four sweeps.

“We wanted it, and we didn’t want to lose,” Astoria freshman Allison Silva said after Thursday’s victory.

Before the start of the season, Astoria coach Eric Gohr said, “I would assume (the Braves) are by far the favorite, not only in the league, but in the state.”

So a victory over the state favorite would – you might assume – be something to celebrate. Not so fast, said Gohr, who always manages to bring his team back to reality.

“We’re going to focus on Tilla-mook, and understand that this only counts as one win, and for Banks it only counts as one loss,” he said. “Both teams played at a high level tonight, and to have a match come down to two points in the fifth game … it was a classic matchup.”

The Astoria players, meanwhile, were elated and celebrating long after the match, which ended at 9:35 p.m.

“Their defense was sooo outstanding,” Astoria’s Olivia Israel said of the Braves. “We couldn’t get anything.”

The Fishermen, meanwhile, played much better than in their last meeting with Banks – a state tournament semifinal match in Eugene, won by the Braves in four games. Banks would eventually lose to Crook County in the state championship.

“We had more momentum from our home crowd, and that made it a little different this time,” said Israel, who was 19-of-20 serving, with nine kills.

A big key for Gohr was the passing effort by Astoria sophomore Noelle Lund.

“Noelle passed absolutely perfectly on all five attempts in the fifth game,” he said. “Frankly, Noelle Lund was the reason we still had a chance in the fifth game. She was outstanding, and had an exceptional night. It was the best night someone’s passed the ball in this program since I’ve been here.”

Nothing came easy for the Lady Fish in the first-place showdown.

The Braves held a 19-13 lead in Game 1, following Jennifer Hilger’s block on Lund.

But the “mental toughness award” definitely went to Astoria, which rallied in the opener behind three kills from Kelsie Houghtaling, followed by two attack errors on the Braves to give the Fish their final two points and a 27-25 win.

Game 2 was a little easier on the nerves as Astoria held leads of 16-10 and 21-15 before finishing with a Lund kill at game point. Astoria freshman Miranda Dietrichs highlighted the game with a long serving stretch, while Danielle Moyer ripped a pair of kills down the seam for back-to-back points late in the game.

Israel added a sinker ball serve for an ace.

The Braves finally showed some toughness of their own in Game 3.

Abby Hardie and Chelsie Bunn were big at the net for Banks, which built an 18-12 lead, and this time held on for the win.

Astoria had seemingly recovered in Game 4, with Moyer and Houghtaling hammering away at the tough Banks defense to build a 16-10 advantage.

But the Braves managed to make some miracle digs, resulting in points off long rallies and a comeback that had Banks outscoring Astoria 15-7 the remainder of the game.

It all came down to a fifth and deciding game, which turned out to be symbolic of the entire night.

The Braves had kills from Hardie and Melissa Masters for a quick 6-3 lead, before Astoria countered with “Dani-Mo” (Moyer), who delivered two power kills into the heart of the Banks defense, both off sets by Silva.

The Fishermen led 10-8 following a spike by Israel, but back came the Braves, reeling off four straight points for a 12-10 advantage.

Astoria called a timeout, with Gohr telling his team to “stay focused, keep the ball in play and don’t give up,” Israel said.

Silva added, “There was kind of a sense of urgency, like ‘we need to get it done, and let’s not mess up,’ because you don’t want to let your team down.”

Houghtaling tied the game at 12-12 with an off-speed kill, and the teams were tied at 13, 14 and 15, with the Braves twice holding off match points by the Fish.

But the third time was lucky for Astoria. After Silva set Moyer for a kill to make it 16-15, an attack error by the Braves gave the Lady Fish the final point and the victory.

When his team was trailing 12-10, “At that point, I thought Banks was clearly the better team on defense,” Gohr said. “I was just hoping for a little window, and we got one,” with Houghtaling’s serves.

Houghtaling was 17-for-18 serving, all jump serves. Dietrichs was 21-of-21 from the line, and Moyer led Astoria with 23 kills.

The Lady Fish spent much of the night with two sophomores and two freshmen on the floor, including Dietrichs and Kyra Grafton.

“With Kyra and Miranda playing as freshmen, they know their role is very limited,” Gohr said. “But they have an understanding of what it takes and they’re mentally tough. I’m not going to put them in a situation where they can’t handle it, and clearly they both handled it tonight.

“It was a great match,” he added. “When it gets to 12-12 in Game 5, it can go either way. But the resiliency the girls showed, to be down like that and come back … I think that Yamhill game Tuesday helped us, quite frankly. To be down 13-19 and 19-24 and win it 33-31 – we try to draw from those experiences.

“Banks outplayed us all night, but we just kind of hung in there and tried to take advantage when we had a window, and that’s what we did.”

Seaside def. Scappoose

SEASIDE — Seaside picked up its first Cowapa League victory of the season Thursday at home, a five-game match won by the Gulls, 16-25, 16-25, 25-17, 25-16, 15-5.

Haley Nice had 15 kills and Taylor Davis added six for the Gulls. Reno Meiling had 83 sets on the night with 28 percent hit for kills.

“Rachel Sparks played tremendous defense and racked up a total of 26 digs,” said Seaside coach Brenna Archibald. Nice added 24 digs, and Lakyn Williams had 19 digs.

Seaside hosts its annual invitational Saturday, with 16 teams taking part. Alex Habecker was out because of a shoulder injury, so Danielle Willyard started as a middle for Seaside.

Warrenton def. Catlin Gabel

PORTLAND — Warrenton lost the first game, 14-25, then rallied to win the next three Thursday night at Catlin Gabel, 27-25, 25-15, 25-10, in a Lewis & Clark League match.

Courtney Lofton had a huge match for the Warriors, with 12 blocks and 11 kills on 32-of-35 hitting.

Mady Smotherman (five kills) and Raquel Legler (four kills) each had three blocks, and Emmi Collier added five kills.

Kayla Jasmin served 18-of-19, and Mady Hanna was 17-for-19 from the service line, including nine in a row to finish Game 4.

Kim Nichols was 15-for-15 serving, 19-of-26 passing.

Knappa def. Vernonia

KNAPPA — Each game went down to the wire, but Knappa won each time Thursday night, as the Loggers scored a 25-21, 26-24, 27-25 win over Vernonia in a Northwest League volleyball match at Knappa.

The Lady Loggers had to overcome a 23-20 deficit to win Game 3.

Rea Elliott led the offensive attack with 20 kills, followed by eight kills from Kasie Cameron.

Carly Sproul was 13-of-13 serving, while Kristi Funk and Shanie Foley combined for 22 digs. Emily Goodman had 25 assists in her return.

Jewell def. C.S. Lewis

NEWBERG — Jewell rallied from a two-games-to-one deficit Wednesday night for a five-game win at C.S. Lewis, 22-25, 25-18, 21-25, 25-18, 15-9.

It was “ace serve” night for the Jays, as Jeannie DiMaggio served up 10 aces, followed by Thai Curtis (six), Rachel Stahley (five) and Randi Harhart (two).

Harhart was the leading hitter with 10 kills, while Curtis had 42 digs and three kills. DiMaggio and Chandra Marlow had four kills apiece.

Raymond def. Naselle

RAYMOND, Wash. — Naselle’s Shae Trost had 11 kills and teammates Ciara Sandell and Carley Kitzman each had 10, but it wasn’t enough for the Comets, as Raymond scored a five-game win, 25-22, 13-25, 26-24, 11-25, 15-8, Thursday night.

Boys Soccer

Astoria 6, Banks 0

BANKS — “Beat the Braves” was the theme for the day at  Astoria High School Thursday.

The boys soccer team did their part with a 6-0 victory at Banks, to go with an easy win over the Braves for Astoria’s girls soccer team, and the Astoria volleyball team also picked up a victory.

Astoria had no problem dispatching the Braves in the Cowapa League boys soccer game, scoring four second half goals.

Salvador Garcia opened the scoring in the eighth minute off an assist from Evan Cain, and Dylan Crownover made it 2-0 in the 25th minute, off a pass from Garcia.

Garcia assisted Antonio Lopez in the 48th minute; Garcia scored his second goal in the 54th minute (assist from Cain); Lopez tallied his second score in the 57th minute (assist No. 3 from Cain), and Carson Whisler rounded out the scoring in the 70th minute on a penalty kick.

Seaside 4, Scappoose 0

SCAPPOOSE — Seaside scored two goals in each half Thursday at Scappoose, resulting in a 4-0 Cowapa League boys soccer win over the Indians.

Just three minutes into the game, Seaside’s Aaron Chesnut was fouled and converted a penalty kick.

Ian Cameron scored in the 17th minute off a pass from Javier Martinez, and Martinez assisted on the first goal of the second half, a header by Chesnut in the 70th minute. Martinez capped the scoring with a long goal in the 73rd minute. David Ward recorded the shutout in goal for the Gulls.

Girls Soccer

Astoria 7, Banks 1

WARRENTON — Astoria bounced back from a tough loss to Yamhill-Carlton earlier in the week with a 7-1 win over Banks Thursday in a Cowapa League girls soccer game at H.H. Snow Volunteer Field.

The Lady Fishermen held a narrow 2-1 lead at halftime, as Zhoe Rub scored on a header off a corner kick in the fifth minute, and Kjirsten Fastabend made it 2-0 in the 21st minute, before the Braves answered with a goal in the 25th minute.

Astoria turned the second half into a rout, scoring five times while not allowing a shot on goal for Banks.

Katie Leino assisted on the first three goals of the second half, scores by Maddy Easton in the 50th and 55th minutes, and Fastabend again in the 66th minute.

Leino scored herself off an assist from Easton in the 70th minute, and Marina Oman tallied the final score with two minutes remaining.

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