The good news for the Astoria volleyball team, in their three-game loss to Banks Thursday night – losing the first match of the season with the Braves isn’t always a bad thing in this Cowapa League rivalry.

For the last two seasons, the losing team in the first match has won the rematch at the state tournament.

And given their past, the Lady Braves and Lady Fishermen will probably meet at Lane Community College, as they have in each of the past four seasons.

For now, the better team is Banks, as the Lady Braves swept past the Fishermen in three straight sets at the Brick House, 25-11, 25-18, 26-24.

“They were the better team tonight,” said Astoria coach Angee Hunt. “We came out scared collectively, and you just can’t do that in a match like this.”

Missed serves and a key letdown towards the end of Game 3 cost the Fishermen, who lost a league match at home for just the second time since 2010.

“Missed serves is indicative of having some mental issues,” Hunt said, “and we seemed to have some mental blocks tonight.”

The Braves set the tone in Game 1, as they turned a 9-5 lead into a 16-5 advantage, on their way to the night’s easiest win.

Astoria regrouped and battled back from a 13-8 deficit in Game 2 to tie it at 17-17, behind a kill off the block from Kyra Grafton and Chloee Hunt’s block on MaKenna Partain.

But Banks answered the challenge and outscored the Lady Fish 8-1 to take a two games-to-none lead.

The Fishermen have rallied from two-game deficits before, and it looked as though they would in Game 3.

After Banks built a 9-4 advantage, Astoria rallied with a kill from Noelle Lund, an ace serve by Miranda Dietrichs and a kill from Grafton to force a 10-10 tie.

Astoria played its best volleyball of the night from there.

Grafton pounded a ball for a 12-10 lead, and Hunt and Allison Silva combined to block an attack for a point and a 14-11 advantage.

The Braves managed to stick within two points for much of the game, but trailed 24-22, as the Lady Fish picked up crucial points with a kill down the line from Sonia Ahrens; an attack by Lund to the back corner and a kill by Hunt, both off sets from Silva.

But Astoria’s two opportunities to close out Game 3 were both lost, as the Braves rallied to tie it at 24-24, then scored the next two points on a block by 5-foot-11 sophomore Megan Bunn and a kill by Partain off a set from Alyssa Chung at match point.

“We can’t do anything about the loss,” Hunt said, “but we can learn from it, and ultimately correct the things we need to so it won’t happen the next time.”

Astoria’s next time vs. Banks is Oct. 15 at Banks. The Lady Fishermen play in a tournament at Oregon City Saturday.



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