Through one preseason jamboree and now two nonleague matches, Astoria volleyball fans are starting to like what they see from the Lady Fishermen.
On paper, Astoria improved to 1-1 and moved to 11th in the early-season OSAA rankings, after the Fishermen scored a four-set win over Estacada in their home opener Thursday night.
Avenging a four-set loss at Estacada last year, Astoria took the Rangers down in four in a hot and humid Brick House, 20-25, 25-20, 25-11, 25-17.
“I was really happy with how we played,” said Astoria coach Jessie Todd. “This was really the first time this year where we got better as the match progressed. It was our first match at home, and there’s always a few nerves that come with that.
“But I was happy with the way we overcame some rough spots,” she said. “We’d lose a couple points here and there, but we didn’t let it affect us. We stayed mentally focused even with the mistakes, and we were able to come back with positive plays of our own.”
The Fishermen were actually 0-for their last three matches against Estacada. Astoria’s last win over the Rangers came in the first round of the 2012 state playoffs, which eventually resulted in Astoria’s first and only appearance in a state championship match.
The Rangers controlled most of Game 1 in Thursday’s match, building leads of 11-7 and 20-14, before eventually closing it with a five-point win.
The two teams exchanged leads throughout Game 2, until Astoria’s Hailey O’Brien took over at the service line, and turned an 18-18 tie into a 22-18 lead.
Julia Norris set Halle Helmersen for a kill off the block, and Kajsa Jackson’s kill off a Ranger touch was the final point and tied the match at 1-1.
With the exception of a short run by Estacada, Astoria dominated Game 3 from start to finish.
O’Brien’s cross-court kill and a set by Taja Tuimato that rolled over the net gave the Fishermen a 7-1 lead.
Jackson — in addition to singing the national anthem — held serve for a long stretch of Game 3, turning Astoria’s 7-5 lead into a 15-5 advantage.
Kailee Fisher had a kill to the back line and Jackson’s stuff block made it 22-9.
In Game 4, Astoria picked up where it left off, jumping out to a 13-4 advantage, highlighted by several kills from Norris, and Fisher’s block of an attack by Estacada’s Makaelyn Jennings.
The Fishermen spread the attack around as the game continued, with kills from Norris, Jackson, Helmersen and Tuimato, before Tuimato set Fisher for the kill at match point.
Helmersen and Norris had seven aces apiece for Astoria, which had 32 ace serves on the night.
The Rangers missed 10 serves, and had many attacks sail over the end line.
Tuimato led Astoria with 21 kills, while Jackson and Norris had 15 each. Helmersen added a team-high 13 digs, with libero Skylar Sturtz chipping in with nine digs.
“We really got into a groove in the second game,” Todd said. “We buckled down. Skylar had some great digs and sparked our play defensively with some big saves.”
Astoria takes part in a talented Cascade Invitational on Saturday.
Junior Varsity: Astoria def. Estacada, 25-22, 25-17, 15-8.