Athena were fortunate to be asked to be the first club to take part in Volleyball England's new net drop challenge.
Based on a fun promotional competition used in the European Champions League, the aim of the challenge is to serve, clip the top of the net with the ball and have the ball. After a quick qualifying serve, where Emma was the only to be successful, a final took place with club captain playing against Emma with 5 attempts each.
Emma showed she is a whizz at this, scoring a further 2 more hits to Sarah's one to win 2-1.
Click here to see the video on Volleyball England's Facebook page
East Midlands League
Wednesday 24th January
Leicester Athena 3 Ashfield Vipers 2 0
Athena's regional league team made short work of an inexperienced Ashfield Vipers 2 team at the Leicester Sports Arena on Wednesday night. Coach Paul decided to give three local league players a chance to play, with Liza, Erin and Julia stepping up. Liza played all three sets as middle and served and hit very well, Julia played as outside hitter in the second and third set and showed some really deft touches and, finally, Erin played as libero and her passing created a secure platform for the rest of the team.
Athena started with a strong line-up of Kristy, Petra, Sam, Liza, Alysia and Sarah (captain) and they eased into a big lead as Vipers 2 struggled with the strong serving.
Second set saw Adela take over setting duties from Sarah and Julia introduced for Kristy. Once more, the strong serving from players such as Alysia gave the team a big lead they did not relinquish.
Despite winning the set easily, the first pass to Adela was much too wayward and, in between the second and third set, Sarah showed her leadership qualities by demanding an improvement. Kristy replaced Petra. Athena played with more control of the first pass, allowing Adela more time to set.
Well done to Alysia on being voted MVP by Vipers 2 ... a reward for her great serving and clinical hitting.
Athena's inexperienced local league team took another big step in their development against an equally inexperienced Loughborough Uni team on Monday night.
In the first set, Athena had Beth, Charlie, Julia, Kasia, Kamila and Emma on court. With Hannah injured and Ioana unavailable, we only had one setter in Emma, so we pressed Julia into service as our second setter. We made a solid start in the first set, playing well together with some solid passing and made good headway with the first few points. But Loughborough then took the lead with some solid serving and Athena struggled to find their momentum, with Loughborough taking the first set 13-25.
The second set saw some player swaps, with Rebecca coming onto court for the first time for Athena and Charlie was put in as setter for the first time during a match. Athena made some excellent plays with a fantastic run of serves from Kamila. There were also some nice points scored from Kasia and Emma that edged us forwards - with Athena taking the second set 20-25.
The third set started off with Loughborough gaining a long lead right off the bat. Both sides made mistakes, but Loughborough got ahead with a run of serves that took them into a 9 point lead that Athena just couldn't catch up to. Loughborough took the last set 25-10.
Coach Paul said "we made some mistakes, but the mistakes were because of our lack of experience, and not because of a lack of heart." He went onto say how proud he was of the team, and how proud the players should all be of themselves since they have all shown improvement in the development of their volleyball.
With thanks to Charlie for the match report.
Despite a 3-0 loss at home to PVC, Athena's local league side showed some excellent signs in only their second game of the season.
Athena fielded 2 regional league players in Adela and Kamila to provide some experience and support for a very inexperienced squad. Emma and Hannah started off as setters, with Kamila and Liza through the middle and Adela and Julia as outside hitters. The first set started quite evenly, with both teams serving and receiving well. But Athena couldn't keep up their focus and started to miss some serve receives.
Halfway through the first set, Hannah sprained her thumb and, for the second set, she was replaced as setter by Adela. This meant that Kasia came on to the play as outside hitter. Again, the team started well, but their inexperience meant that they dipped in the middle of the set. In the final set, Charlie and Beth came on to help them continue their development.
PVC fielded a very strong and experienced team which showed as they won 25-12, 25-12, 25-19. They worked hard and made less mistakes than Athena and were well worth their victory.
For Athena, Beth and Charlie have only started playing this season and they showed some good touches. Kasia and Julia are 17 and still learning, Kasia showed a lot of composure in back court. Emma grew and grew into the role of setter. By the third set, her sets were clear and accurate and she showed that she has a lot of potential. Having been recently elected as captain, Liza played with great commitment and emotion.
After the match, Hannah went to the LRI and was confirmed to have sustained a sprained thumb meaning she will be out of action for 6-8 weeks. Get better soon, Hannah, we will miss your enthusiasm and smile.