Leicestershire Volleyball League
Wednesday 23rd January 2019
Leicester Athena 2 Loughborough Students 1
Two strong teams went head to head at the Morningside Arena and produced an entertaining match full of skill, endeavour and long rallies.
Injuries and other problems have ravaged the local league squad, so Athena drew from the regional and national league squads. Charlie and Eli were setting, Algi and Edyta played outside with Alex and Sarah playing middle. ... that is Sarah the NVL setter playing through the middle for possibly the first time since school!
It took time for Athena to settle with such a makeshift team and Loughborough made the best of the opportunity to pull into a strong lead 8-2 lead. But Athena began to settle down and pass better and began to eat into that lead until they were drawing level at 23-23. But the Students managed to recover their composure and win the first set 25-23.
Athena were much better in the second set and were in front all the way through, Both teams were very strong defensively and a little light on the ability to kill the point, so there were a lot of long rallies. Athena worked out that by getting the ball back and making Loughborough set up another attack was putting pressure on the students and forcing mistakes. With Athena in the lead, Nikki came on for Edyta for the last few points.
The third set started off more evenly, but Athena's defence and back court work was impressive and they kept getting the ball back to the other side of the net, forcing Loughborough Students to make another play. Once more Nikki came on for a few more points at the end to build her experience and Athena comfortably won the final set to seal a 2-1 victory.
It was a good victory and against a well organised Loughborough team. The two teams meet again on Monday, let's hope for the same result.
National League Division 3C
Sunday 20th January 2019
Leicester Athena 3 Loughborough Students 0
Although Athena had a win against Loughborough in a shield match in early December, Loughborough came out strong forcing Athena to fight for every point
In set one, the starting line up was Sarah as setter, Alysia as opposite, Kristy and Diana through four, Kamila and Tereza through middle with Algi playing libero. A good first pass gave Sarah options among her hitters. Alysia in particular had some great shots placing the ball in areas that Loughborough struggled to cover. With Sarah's sneaky backsets over to Loughborough and Algi's great defence, Athena were able to squeeze out a first set win 27-25.
In set two, Athena's momentum continued. Adela came on for Alysia and proved to be an asset to the team. She would not let the ball hit the floor, even if that meant her being out place on occasion. With great serve receive and excellent defence, Athena was able to pull off another set win with final score 25-19.
The final set challenged Athena and it was a constant battle for points between the two teams. Athena's intensity dropped giving Loughborough the lead 11-16. However, with some good defence, including a great one-armed dig by Sarah and some line shots by Kristy, Athena were able to close the gap. It was neck and neck up to the very end but Diana showed courage and what she can truly do with some incredible hits that finished the set 28-26
Athena wins another league match 3-0!! Well played by everyone with special shout out to Algi for winning MVP and to Diana for her amazing back court defence and outstanding hitting.
Match Report by Kristy Logan
National League Division 3C
Sunday 20th January 2019
Leicester Athena 3 Telford 0
After an already hectic morning playing against Loughborough Students in the first game of our home triangular fixture, Leicester Athena had to prepare again for another match against Telford Ladies for the 3rd fixture of the day. At our last home game, the pause in between games turned out to be detrimental to our own mentality – meaning we were slow to get our heads into the match before. We weren’t going to let that be the case again for this match.
Athena makes a strong start
In the first set, Athena started with: Paulina setting, Alysia opposite, Diana and Petra outside, Kristy and Tereza through the middle with Algi as our trusted libero once again. The girls rocketed off to a great start, with pressure coming from our service, Telford struggled to get their first pass to the setter meaning a lot of their attacks were coming from off the net and weren’t as powerful as they had wished. By far the most outstanding moment of the set was the constant serving, receiving, and hitting by Tereza. She served for 7 points and every receive she took during this round of service was beautifully passed right to the setter. This meant that Athena could do what they do best – dig, set, hit, and Telford just couldn’t keep up. Athena won the first set 25-6.
Athena take control
The line-up for the second set was kept the same by Coach Gordon, who decided it was best to keep the momentum from the first set going. At this point, Telford raised the level of their game, and although they tried to place the ball in the corner of our court to catch us out – this didn’t mean much as majority of the time it was covered by Kristy or Algi anyways. With every pass that came in, Paulina was able to beautifully set it to exactly the right place so it could be killed with style and Telford definitely underestimated the hitting power of both Diana and Petra. The end of the set finished with an absolutely cracking shot from Diana – hitting the ball straight through the blockers hands and right onto the floor before anyone had the time to blink. The second set finished 25-22.
Three and out!
The 3rd set was once again kept the same, though Adela did come on for Alysia during the middle of this set. Athena were fighting hard, running on motivation and adrenaline, wanting to end the game then and there, and therefore taking the 3-0 win for themselves. Our passing unit once again were doing fantastically, picking up every ball that wasn’t already covered by the block, making it an easy job for Paulina to set so one of the hitters could kill the ball. A fantastic moment (though maybe it shouldn’t have happened in the first place!) was when a miscommunication happened between Kristy and Petra, meaning Petra had to dive “for her life” across the front of the net and still managed to get the ball back up so Paulina could set it (but luckily not to Petra again who was still on the floor!), which of course became Athena’s point. The set went quickly, with Athena squeezing out every last point they could. It really showed as Tereza was libero’d off in the backcourt for Algi at point 8, and only returned front court again at point 24! Of course, Athena won the set 25-12.
Tereza's MVP award
Massive congratulations goes out to Tereza, who bagged herself her first MVP vote of the season! It really was well and truly deserved.
Once again it was another double home victory, and even better than last time as both games of the day were 3-0. These 2 wins mean that we are now placed 3rd in the W3C League, with 2 games in hand on the teams in 1st and 2nd place. Our next game is on the 10th February in Coventry – a game which should put us into 2nd place if we win both.
Match report by Sarah
East Midlands Volleyball League
Wednesday 16th January 2019
Leicester Athena 1 Ashfield Vipers 3
An injury to Ioana, Athena's setter, midway through the second set really disrupted things in this regional league match against Ashfield Vipers 2.
With a big squad to choose from Coach Paul selected Ioana to set, Julia opposite, Emma and Marta middle and Edyta and Erin as outside - it was an inexperienced line-up but he wanted to see them put Sunday's training into practice.
Vipers start strong winning the first 2 sets
The first set started nervily with both sides making mistakes but Vipers 2 settled and Athena struggled to keep pace. The team battled hard and their defensive cover was very good, but they could not create enough telling attacks against a very organised Vipers 2 back court. Vipers 2 won the first set 25-17.
With a big squad to choose from, Paul changed the team for the second, Kamila and Sam coming into play through the middle and Algi replacing Erin. With a more experienced line-up, Athena kept Vipers 2 on a very short leash with neither team able to create a substantial lead. That changed with the score at 12:11 when Ioana and Algi clashed going to a tipped ball and Ioana sprained her thumb. Bravely, Marta volunteered to step in and play as setter. But the injury clearly disrupted Athena's flow and Vipers 2 put on 14 points to Athena's 5. They won the second set 25-16.
Athena fight back
Edyta came on to set and did an amazing job considering that she has not set for many, many years. Ioana provided great support and direction from the bench and Julia was directing things on court. Teo played as outside instead of Edyta and Marta came back on for Kamila. Everyone lifted their game to help out Edyta and Athena took the lead right from the start of the set and did not let that lead go. Although Vipers did pull level towards the end, Athena won a thrilling third set 25-23.
Emma replaced Marta through the muddle for the fourth set but the fightback hit the buffers as Athena's service receive disintegrated. Vipers 2 launched themselves into a 9-0 lead and Athena's confidence sunk through the floor and they only just made it to double figures as Vipers won the final set 25-10.
It was a disappointing end to the match. There were elements of good play and excellent coverage, but the lack of a consistent block and the lack of training time showed in the performance. Coach Paul held his hands up and said "I made a few changes throughout the match as I wanted to give players court time, but it ended up affecting our fluency and rhythm"
Well done to Julia for being nominated MVP ... again!
Leicestershire Volleyball League
Friday 11th January 2019
PVC 0 Leicester Athena 3
The local league team won their first game of the season with a solid victory over PVC.
Athena fielded a strong team with Ioana and Charlie setting, Sam and Alex, Edyta and Sarah as outside hitters and it was a competitive match between the two teams. It was Sam's second match of the season and she began to look back to form with strong hitting through the middle. Edyta and Sarah provided a great platform through their passing and Charlie's setting showed signs of her continuing development.
Athena powered through the first two sets, 25-19, 25-17. In the third set, Nikki and Emily replaced Sarah and Edyta to give these two 15 year olds more court time. It was great to see them getting involved and making some telling digs.
All in all, it was a good match, played in a great spirit and a timely morale boost to the local league team.
East Midlands Volleyball League
Saturday 12th January 2019
Nottingham Rockets 3 Leicester Athena 0
The regional league team pushed a well-organised Nottingham Rockets side a long way but were unable to convert their chances.
Athena were missing a number of players, and a much changed team took some time to settle in the first set with their service receive being quite wayward. Evenso, Athena managed to keep step with Rockets with Eli setting, Julia opposite, Kamila and Sam playing middle and Edyta and Tereza as outside hitters. Eli's strong serving and great cover from Julia and Edyta meant that the first set was finely balanced at 19-18. But then Rockets upped their tempo and served the set out 25-19.
Marta replaced Sam for the second set and her passing in the back court helped Athena stabilise their pass to Eli but Rocket's solid defence and intelligent attacks helped them grow a 16-9 lead which they never relinquished, winning the second set 25-19.
In the third set, Sam replaced Kamila and the team began to play at a higher tempo with a lot more communication. It meant that they managed to get ahed on the scoreboard for the first time. Service switched back and forth with Tereza and Sam hitting well, Julia conjuring up some wonderful winning points and Eli serving hard. As the set drew to its conclusion, with Athena ahead, a few nervous plays handed Rockets victory.
Rockets played very well and defended brilliantly, but it did feel like this was an opportunity to missed by Athena.
Congratulations to captain Julia for her nomination as MVP! Very well deserved.
National Shield Round 3
Wednesday Wednesday 9th January 2019
Leicester Athena 0 Derby Darkstar 3
Leicester Athena put up a great fight against Division 1 opponents but bowed out of this years' cup competition at the third round stage.
Derby are flying high in Division 1 and provided Athena with their stiffest test to date, but Athena started brightly in the first set, with Sarah setting, Adela playing opposite. Kamila and Tereza as middle hitters and Kristy and Diana as outside hitters. Athena played with commitment and fearlessly and they pushed their opponents all the way through the first set, up until the second technical timeout. But Derby showed their greater power pushing ahead to win the first set 25-17.
Derby were now in their groove and their hitting and float serving was causing Athena problems, but Adela's cover and work ethic kept the rallies going and Kristy's hitting was punching holes in Derby's defence. Despite their determination, Derby pulled ahead to win the second set to 17 once again.
Paulina replaced Sarah as setter but Athena still continued to struggle to handle Derby's greater power and accuracy and the third set was lost 25-16.
It was a brave fight by Athena who were without a number of players. A huge congratulation to Adela who was voted MVP by Darkstar in her first match playing as opposite. A worthy reward for her hard work.