A good old-fashioned Clatsop Clash match that went the distance, as the Astoria and Seaside volleyball teams gave the fans their best, and took it to the limit Thursday night at the Gulls' Nest.
Seaside played one of its best — if not the best — matches of the season, but Astoria rallied from a two games-to-one deficit to win in five sets, 22-25, 25-19, 24-26, 25-17, 15-13.
“I'm just proud of my team for coming out with the win,” said Astoria coach Jessie Todd. “Seaside fought hard tonight. Rivalry matches are always tough, and you never know what to expect. It's an away environment for us, and (the Gulls) were really emotionally charged.”
Seaside coach Demi Lund said yes, indeed, it was her team's best match of the season.
“It was such a close match,” Lund said. “My girls played their hearts out and I could not be more proud of them.
“I told them that even though it’s a loss on the record, it’s a win for our team because of how hard we played and with so much passion,” she said. “That’s the best I have seen them play all season.”
Seaside even led 13-11 in the fourth set, before Astoria won that game, then overcame a few close calls in Game 5 to hold off the Gulls, who had not won a single set in their last five matches.
“It's always hard when some calls don't go your way,” Todd said of the fifth set. “But we always talk about how you respond emotionally from those calls, and tonight the girls did a good job in responding.”
But before that, it was Seaside which held an emotional lead for most of the night.
The Gulls took advantage of several kills by Ellisa Blodgett in Game 1, along with a serving string by Tristyn McFadden to build a 20-15 lead.
Astoria fought back to within 24-22, but Emma Meyer set Karen Wing for a kill at game point.
Seaside kept the momentum rolling into Game 2, jumping to a quick 7-1 lead.
But the Lady Fish rallied, Julia Norris went on a serving streak, and Kelsey Fausett got the offensive attack going with several kills, including a cross-court spike for a 20-16 lead.
Kailee Fisher added a kill, Taja Tuimato had a kill off a block, and Norris's tap over the net at game point evened the match at one-apiece.
It was Seaside that rallied in the third set. The Gulls trailed 4-1 and 10-5, and trailed late 23-20 and 24-22.
But a few attack errors on the Fishermen, coupled with three ace serves by Wing, gave Seaside the 26-24 win.
“Elissa Blodgett had the game of her career tonight,” Lund said. “She put away almost every ball that was set to her. Emma Meyer set great and Karen Wing stepped in to play the middle and did so well.”
In Game 4, Emma Brown's ace serve had the Gulls in front, 13-11.
But a couple aces by Norris served as the pivotal stretch in the match, with Astoria taking control down the stretch with back-to-back kills by Jackson and Fausett to even the match at 2-2. Fausett led the Fishermen with 12 kills.
An intensity-filled fifth set saw four lead changes and seven ties, the last at 11-11.
From there, Norris and Jackson had kills, and Skylar Sturtz had an ace serve for a 14-11 lead.
One last rally by the Gulls helped Sesaide close to within 14-13, but Jackson's spike found open space near the back line for the match point and the win.
“Kajsa also did a good job at the net, with seven or eight blocks at least,” Todd said. “And she did a nice job out of the back row as well. We made some adjustments defensively, and I thought the girls did a nice job in running those adjustments.
“We just had to settle down offensively,” she said. “After the third set, I called 'em all together, and just told them to dig deep, not play scared and to attack and play with some confidence. We just said, 'we are not losing this match.'”
Astoria also took advantage of a Tillamook win over Banks to move into a second-place tie with the Braves in the Cowapa League standings at 3-2.
The No. 7-ranked Fishermen will return to the Gulls' Nest on Saturday to take part in Seaside's annual tournament, then will return to league play, where Astoria has matches remaining against No. 6 Banks and Valley Catholic.
Junior Varsity: Astoria def. Seaside, 25-17, 13-25, 25-17, 25-18.