"Comeback with a vengeance," was Thursday night's theme at the Brick House as the Astoria volleyball team pulled off another Comeback Kids' special against visiting Molalla.

The Fishermen - trailing two games-to-one - had to rally once and then had to rally again to beat the Indians, 25-17, 19-25, 21-25, 25-10, 17-15.

Molalla took Astoria to the very brink of a loss as the Indians led 14-12 in Game 5 before the Fishermen took advantage of two straight hitting errors, then used a service ace from Shelby Cullen at game-point to win the match.

It was the second straight five-game win for Astoria, which came back from a 2-0 game deficit to beat Yamhill-Carlton earlier in the week.

Needless to say, Astoria coach Angee Hunt doesn't want her team to get into a habit of falling behind, then winning in five. She wants to keep her voice.

Setting up the ball to spike is Astoria's Shyra Merila (No. 4).

KIM ERSKINE-The Daily Astorian"We need to overcome that come-from-behind mentality," said Hunt, whose team improves to 2-0 in match play. "It's important to win those - especially in league this year. I think it's going to be a real rat race. Any team on any given night will be able to pull out a win. It's just a matter of who makes the mistakes and who controls the ball better.

"We were picking up a lot of shots and playing scramble defense, and that's always exciting to watch - when the players are flying around and keeping the ball in play, and the rallies are going," she said. "The team that's able to keep the defensive intensity is the one that usually comes out on top."

The Fishermen built a commanding 17-8 lead in the first game, before Molalla rallied to within 20-17. Astoria responded by scoring the game's final five points, which included Heidi Hanson's stuff block at game point.

Molalla won Games 2 and 3, breaking 14-14 ties in both games to take a 2-1 game advantage.

Game 4 was all Astoria. Heather Arnold served two straight aces, Cullen set up Shelby Raichl for a kill and Megan Gabriel added a stuff block to spark the Fishermen to a 19-6 lead.

The fifth and deciding game featured several momentum swings, with Molalla holding a 3-0 lead, Astoria coming back for a 7-4 advantage, then the Indians forging ahead 11-7, following five straight service points from freshman Kendra Guest.

Senior Emily Reilly had big kills to help Molalla to a 14-12 advantage, before the Fishermen made their final run.

The Indians committed two straight hitting errors to tie the game, and Molly Roman served up an ace to give Astoria a 15-14 advantage. Molalla tied it at 15-15 before the Fishermen rallied for the final two points.

"It was a little bit of a nail-biter tonight, but it's always nice to come out on top and win close ones like this," Hunt said. "It's really a confidence boost for the girls.

"I liked the way we stayed tough," she added. "I think we've learned how to play without fear. I wanted us to be aggressive and not be tentative. We need to play our game. If we start getting fearful, we start making mistakes.

"It's been a real key for us to bounce back from mistakes, and not let one mistake break our momentum," Hunt said. "We're going to make mistakes - we're not going to play perfectly every time. When we do make mistakes, we just need to overcome that and push forward."

Hanson had 10 kills - most of them off sets from Shyra Merila, who had a team-high 20 assists.

"That's been our go-to play," Hunt said. "It was nice to see Heidi going up against a triple-block tonight and forcing the ball through and leading the team in kills. She's getting the job done, and it's nice to see her step up to that level."

Astoria hosts North Marion Tuesday.

Gulls sweep HuskiesAURORA - The Seaside volleyball team grabbed the momentum and never let go Thursday night, as the Gulls posted a 25-19, 25-20, 25-17 win at North Marion in a nonleague match.

"The girls worked hard tonight to stop any sort of run by North Marion, which is one reason we were able to win in three games," said Seaside coach Jason Boyd. "No one stood out tonight as the match-saving player, instead everyone had their shining moment at just the right time to keep the momentum in our favor."

Seaside was 66-of-73 at the service line, with 10 aces. The Gulls, now 2-0 in match play, host Yamhill-Carlton Tuesday.

Loggers lose to Greyhounds in fiveKNAPPA - Knappa couldn't finish off Gaston Thursday night, as the Greyhounds came back from a 2-1 game deficit to beat the Loggers in five, 25-14, 15-25, 9-25, 25-23, 15-9.

"The service errors just killed us in the third and fourth games," said Knappa coach Terry Hardy. "Gaston had near perfect games in serving."

Knappa's Krista Varner was responsible for 20 points in the five games, while "Nadra Evans and Corey Jacobson were both leaders in the kill category," Hardy said. "Meagan Harn had another outstanding game as our setter. Tracie Nygaard and Kasha Klauser were other standouts."

Knappa plays in the Neah-Kah-Nie Tournament Saturday.

Warriors edge Indians in fiveWARRENTON - Warrenton won a lengthy five-game nonleague volleyball match Thursday night at home. The Warriors battled and finally outlasted South Bend, 26-24, 9-25, 25-16, 23-25, 16-14.

Grace Smith led Warrenton with nine kills on 19-of-20 hitting, while teammate Diana Kerr was 20-of-24 at the service line with five aces. Jenna Beckerman and Ashley Johnson were a combined 29-of-29 serving.

"(Game 5) was tight the whole time," said Warrenton coach Dianne Dick. "South Bend is always good competition, and it was good to see us play with so much teamwork. Even in the games we lost, I thought we were hitting the ball well and playing as a team.

"Jenna and Katie (Arnall) did a nice job blocking for us tonight," she said.

Warrenton, 1-1, will compete in the Neah-Kah-Nie Tournament Saturday.

Jays cruise past KnightsJEWELL - Jewell improved to 2-1 on the season with a sweep over visiting Heritage Christian Thursday night, 25-22, 25-16, 25-14.


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