Two wins against Loughborough University on Monday night went some way to lifting spirits after Amanda suffered an injury which resulted in her going to hospital for an -ray on a very painful wrist.
The local team had their re-match against Loughborough Uni. They started very poorly, struggling to come to terms with being in strange surroundings - all their previous matches having been at home. With injured captain, Annabel on the sidelines, the team were second best in all departments in the first set.
The second set started better and they were in contention when an accidental clash left Amanda crumpled on the floor clutching her wrist. After some first aid, she was led off to the Loughborough walk-in medical centre.
Valentina, from the regional league squad quickly stepped into the match despite having no warm up. After the shock of the injury, the team took a bit of time to regain their focus, but slowly, they began to claw back Loughborough;s advantage until they were a 22 each. Each team swapped points as the tension rose and rose but Athena seemed to generate a real togetherness to tough out a 29-27 win.
You could sense the relief and sense that the team had turned a corner and so it proved with Athena gutsing it out to a 25-23 win in the final set.
A 2-1 win against a good Loughborough Uni side ... the local league's team first win.
The local league team were quickly replaced by the regional league team and, right from the off, Athena looked way too strong for Loughborough's regional league team. Sarah began serving and took us to a 9-0 lead and the team played with real power and precision to win 25-14. The second set was much closer as Loughborough rallied really well but Athena showed they had the toughness required to win close sets and they won 25-23.
The final set was much like the first with MVP, Sarah, leading from the front with superb serving taking another 9-0 win. They continued to dominate through Valentina's and Kristy's destructive hitting, winning the third set 25-9.
A real powerhouse of a performance and a big step up in quality from their first win against Nottingham Rockets. Huge congratulations to Kristy, Kinga, Sam, Rhets, Valentina, Alysia and Sarah.
On Friday, Athena's local league team played its third game ever game, this time against the Loughborough University women's team. The girls fought hard in the first set, winning it 25-19. They were focused and played a number of good rallies.
Loughborough changed their system a little bit and picked up the pace in the second set and Athena lost its captain when Annabell twisted her ankle and had to be replaced by Olga. The loss of Annabell clearly shook the team and the loss of focus resulted in Athena losing the second set 18-25.
Into the final set we went and, despite Julia's excellent serving and Erin's attacks, Athena were unable to stop Loughborough from winning the third set 18-25.
All in all the girls came off court happy with their performance and excited to play again on Monday. The girls keep improving and we can't wait to watch them play again. Well done to Joy, Rhets, Erin, Julia, Olga, Liza, Hannah, Amanda and Annabell.
Injury update - Sunday 22nd Jan
Annabell has suffered a sprain to her ankle and is up and about on crutches.
East Midlands league result: Nottingham Rockets 0 - 3 Leicester Athena
What a fabulous start to our Regional League campaign. With a display of power and confidence belying the fact that this was their first competitive match, Athena blew away Nottingham Rockets 3-0.
The match started in the best possible way with MVP, Valentina, serving up 7 winners in a row to take the team into a strong lead. Rockets fought their way back into the set but another ferocious burst of serving from Valentina sealed the first set 25-15.
The second set was more even with Rockets finding their feet and Athena making a number of attacking errors. However, Rhets's work in back court as libero really provided a great platform for the attacks and strong hitting from Kristy through 4 as well as from back court gave Athena the advantage. Athena won 25-20.
Getting through the tough set seemed to galvanise Athena and they played with real confidence in the final set to win 25-14.
Well done to Sam, Kinga, Valentina, Kristy, Joy, Sarah, Alysia and Rhets.
And Happy Birthday, Alysia.
The local league team lost a close match against Wyggeston & QE1 College. Despite winning the first set 25-19, they could not maintain that level as Wyggeston adjusted their format and introduce a libero to provide better serve to their setter.
Athena showed their inexperience as a team with a lot of errors in back court but it was a good performance and they certainly look like having the weapons to beat other teams in this league soon. As they start to learn their roles within the team and build that team-trust, they will develop quickly.
The team comprised Annabel (captain), Julia, Liza, Amanda, Joy, Rhets and Erin