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Banks volleyball opens league play with four straight wins


Lady Braves showing improved confidence after league wins over Scappoose, Astoria

On the heels of two impressive Cowapa League victories, Banks volleyball coach Diana Herb has seen a noticeable change in her squad.

“It’s a difference attitude — just more confidence in themselves and feeling more together as a team,” said Herb, whose Lady Braves swept Scappoose and league rival Astoria last week to improve to 10-3 overall and 4-0 in Cowapa play.

“I’ve been really impressed with them. They’re stepping up and taking ownership of their season. They’re playing to win now instead of playing not to lose.”

Banks opened league play two weeks ago with a pair of straight-sets victories over Tillamook and Yamhill-Carlton, but the Lady Braves stumbled at the Sisters Tournament over the weekend, losing 25-15, 25-19 to the host Outlaws in bracket play.

That loss proved to be a turning point for the team. Banks regrouped and came out stronger than ever last week, pounding Scappoose 25-14, 25-12, 25-16 on Tuesday, then following it up with a resilient 25-11, 25-18, 26-24 victory over Astoria on Thursday.

“The tournament down in Sisters was kind of up and down,” Herb said. “They weren’t playing their best, but they responded really well last week. I was really impressed with the way they bounced back after that loss to Sisters.

“It was almost like a different team. They just seemed so much more confident and focused.”

Tuesday’s win against Scappoose (6-7, 2-2) wasn’t particularly close, but it still provided an opportunity for the Lady Braves to show off their improved mental fortitude.

“In the third game, Scappoose had a little run, but the girls pushed back and still prevailed with a win. I thought that was one of the things they did well — they didn’t fold, they pushed back and closed out the match,” Herb said.

Two days later against Astoria (8-3, 3-1), the Braves raced to a pair of lopsided wins in the first two sets but faced the wrong end of game point in the third set. With Astoria leading 24-22, Banks responded with four straight points to come from behind and end the match.

“That third game was close,” Herb said. “We were down, but the girls never said die. That was a huge win. That proved a lot to us.”

Banks and Astoria have a long history in both league play and the state playoffs. In 2010 and 2011, Astoria won the regular-season league title only to lose to Banks at the Class 4A state tournament. Last year the roles were reversed, with Banks capturing a league championship only to be upset by the Fishermen in the state semifinals.

Last Thursday’s victory over Astoria gives Banks the inside track to a second straight league title, but the teams will meet again Oct. 15 in a potentially decisive rematch.

With games looming next week against last-place Seaside (3-8, 0-4) and third-place Tillamook (5-4, 2-2), Herb said she doesn’t want her team looking too far down the road. Instead, the Lady Braves will focus on fine-tuning their skills and embracing their newfound sense of purpose.

“We’ll continue to work hard in practice and keep trying to improve,” Herb said. “Right now it’s basically about playing our game and controlling our side of things.”

The Lady Braves hosted Seaside on Tuesday (results were not available at press time) and will travel to Tillamook on Thursday. The match is scheduled for a 6:45 p.m. start.