Athena's local league team started the new season with a spirited performance against PVC.
Athena started with Hannah and Joy setting, Liza and Rebecca playing middle and Erin and Julia as outside hitters and they started really well, keeping pace with the much more experienced PVC side. The back court coverage and service receive were particularly good but errors in attack meant that PVC won the first set 25-15.
In the second set, Emma replaced Joy as setter and Athena continued their good work. Hannah's thumb injury meant that Joy was back on court midway through the set and the change knocked their confidence and they let the set run away 25-15 again.
In the final set, Kasia came on for Erin in her first match with us and Athena played really well to build a good lead. PVC came roaring back and coach Kaerger decided to blood Emily and Bethan for their first ever matches. PVC won a much closer final set.
Despite the 3-0 loss, the team work was excellent, the energy and enthusiasm was infectious and Athena did a lot of the simple things well. We played three 17 year olds, and Charlie, Emily and Bethan played their first ever competitive volleyball matches. As coach Kaerger said "The local league team is about player development and I was so pleased to see so many great performances".
This year's Leicestershire Volleyball Association's Autumn Tournament was a great hit with Athena. We fielded 2 teams in the women's competition and many of the players stayed on to take part in the mixed competition afterwards.
To think that we took part last year, in our first competitive outing, and won with just 6 players and now, we can take 14 players and field 2 strong teams shows how far we have come.
In a 5 team pool, Athena 2, led by Joy, won outright, narrowly beating Loughborough students by a narrow 2 points different after we had both won 3 out of 4 matches. Athena 1 came third.
But, more important than any result was the fact that we had a great deal of fun, a couple of players played their first matches EVER, we had a couple more playing their first matches for us and it was FUN ... did I mention that already?
Well done to everyone who took part, and a huge thank you to Phil Cobb of the Leicestershire Volleyball Association, who organised the whole tournament and to Joy who organised our participation.
Match Report Leicester Athena vs Ashfield Vipers by Sarah Booth
It’s been a week since we saw our regional team compete against the Ashfield Vipers National League team. Hosted at our temporary home of De Montfort University, we entered the first round of the Volleyball England National Cup. It saw us play against a more experienced and well-developed team – which set out to be a great competition and challenge for us.
We entered the National Cup originally to try and prove two things to ourselves:
Athena make a strong start
Our first set was unlike any other first set we’ve ever had. Almost surprisingly, our heads were in the game straight from the beginning of the game – which often seemed to not be the case throughout last season. We dominated the first set, as Ashfield seemed taken aback by the level and standard we were playing at. With great teamwork and efficiency, we won the set 25-13. Our second set was more unstable – we started overthinking the way we were playing and making some wrong decisions. Vipers had started to gain their strength by this point, as their mindset had now changed compared to the first set, and admittedly it was a harder game for us compared to the first set. We did, however, win the second set 25-23.
Vipers start their fight-back
During the third and fourth set, we lost a lot of the momentum that we had fought so hard to gain. Despite changing players around, the tiredness and fatigue was really affecting the game we were trying to play and we became our own worst enemies. Vipers had hit their stride within the game and were taking advantage of that. As a team, we worked well together to try overcome this, but it was difficult. Throughout however, we were positive about the situation that we were in. With a few words from Paul, we fought harder in the fourth set, but the fatigue felt by all players was our problem. We lost the third and fourth set 25-13 and 25-16.
The nail-biting finish
In the last set, we made a couple of positional changes and found some rejuvenated energy from somewhere! This set was different – everyone knew this was our last chance to prevail. It was 2-2 and we knew we only had a short amount of points to really make a difference. We fought hard in this set and kept up with Ashfield for the entirety of the set. It was a great recovery from the last two sets, and everyone had a more positive outlook on the game at this stage. However, despite some great shots, and a good block from Kristy (the only one of the game!), we unfortunately lost 18-16. We pushed this set as much as we could, and by the end of the game, Ashfield Vipers were just as tired as we were.
A feeling of immense pride
Although we lost, as the captain, I am enormously proud. We played against the Vipers' regional team last year and won the first game but lost the second game 3-2 ... 17-15 in the last set. Last Sunday's game was basically the same point difference loss as last year. The only difference is the level we were playing at; last year was regional and this game was national league level. The fact that we were able to produce the same outcome at a higher level, despite the loss, just proves to us that we can achieve the 2 outcomes that we set out to do in the beginning. The only thing that stopped us was the fitness levels of all players, and this is something that can get better over the next year – so the possibility of us playing at a National League level next year seems very realistic.
I thoroughly enjoyed the game, and the celebrations, food, and drink afterwards for Coach Paul’s birthday was even better. Thank you to all those that supported us – from the scorers, line judges, and supporters cheering for us, it was much appreciated.
Most importantly, thank you to my team for being the best team I have ever played with. You girls make it all worth it! Now….onto the Regional League!!!
Sunday sees the start of the new season for Athena's regional league squad with a tantalising cup match against National Volleyball League opposition.
Ashfield Vipers will be the guests at our temporary home at De Montfort University's sports hall on Duns Road and they will be coming in high spirits having started their NVL Division 3 Central campaign off with a 3-0 victory over Tamworth.
With a re-jigged team, Athena will get to pit their wits against a much more experienced team and should give a very indication of what the squad needs to do if they are to realise their dream of becoming an NVL team one day.
Warm up is due to start at 11:30 am and we are hoping for a good crowd come along to cheer us as we try to complete our very own David versus Goliath feat,
As a growing club, we need more court time. We have just agreed to start training at Fullhurst Community College from the beginning of October.
In addition to our new regular Wednesday night slots at the Leicester Community Sports Arena, we now have a 2 hour slot at Fullhurst for our local league/junior squads.
There will be a few teething problems as we split over the two venues and, as we settle in, our aim is to help Fullhurst fall in love with volleyball!
Only TWO weeks to the start of pre-season training. Excited!!!
We start again on Friday 1st September at 8 pm. The first three sessions will be all about boosting fitness and going over basic skills and will be open for all players - that is Friday 1st, Wednesday 6th and Friday 8th.
After that, we will split into local league and regional training. Additionally, we are hoping to start a 3rd team ... a junior team that will compete in the local league too.
For more details, follow this link.
We all want to send out congratulations to Alysia Bouchet who became Alysia Gallagher on Saturday when she married her fiancé, Shane.
Alysia looked beautiful and like the happiest person on the planet.
A group of us went to her reception at Ansty Hall to help her celebrate and dance like lunatics!
As the third and final summer session finished, coach Paul Kaerger professed himself really satisfied with how well things had gone. "Over the three sessions, we have had around 20 players come along to play volleyball. What is really exciting is that we have seen so many new faces, people who we hope have enjoyed it so much that they will want to join us and become part of the Athena family."
The summer sessions were set up to help promote the club and with the numbers of new players turning up, that certainly seems have to been a success. "We had 6 juniors turn up over the 3 sessions and I hope that means we can set up an U17 team in the local league this season. I also love that we attract women who played volleyball at school, but stopped and who are coming back to the sport after 10 or 20 years."
The Leicester Athena squads will take a break for a few weeks now but will return to training on the 1st September for pre-season training.