Athena lost their second five-set thriller in a row when they were edged out by last season's champions, Darkstar, in a contest that swung one way and then another.
The first set was even until Elisa produced a series of unplayable floating serves to allow Athena to build up a strong lead which they kept to win the first set 25-20. Athena's defensive showing was a marked improvement on the previous couple of matches with great work at the net and a solid backcourt structure blunting Darkstar's dangerous attacks. Darkstar increased their intensity in the second set and began to mix their attack with clever dinks. They managed to eek out a 25-21 win to level the match.
Athena came back strongly in the third set with Sarah's setting allowing Kristy and Valentina to power in some fabulous hits and they regained the lead 25-21. Sarah was also involved in the play of the match as she managed to hook a ball back from outside the sidelines over the net to win a stupendous point.
Buoyed by their advantage, Sarah's serving helped Athena build a strong 4-point lead in the fourth set and Athena were looking unplayable a times but a contentious refereeing decision halfway through the fourth set led to a long delay. while the referee discussed the point with the two captains. In the end, Athena were awarded the point but Darkstar were now feeling aggrieved and they restarted the set with increased determination which Athena could not match.
A strong serving series allowed them to overcome Athena's lead and win the fourth set 25-21. Darkstar now had the momentum and they were never behind in the fifth and deciding set running out 15-8 winner.
It was a valiant performance by Athena, one that the coach, Paul Kaerger, lauded as their most complete display so far. Congratulations to Sam, Rhetta, Elisa, Sarah, Valentina, Alysia and MVP Kristy for a great effort, such a shame it didn't result in a win.
Athena's local league team lost the final match of the season to a very experienced PVC side.
Athena had Hannah starting as setter and gave a debut to Kamila. Olga was the other setter with Liza and Monica through the middle and Erin playing outside. It was a new line-up and the team struggled with their positions which meant that PVC sprang into an early and commanding lead. PVC's first server took them to an 8-1 lead and they never looked back. As the set wore on, Athena players started to show some form and develop some rallies, but they were no match. and lost the set 25-9.
Paul changed the team to bring Joy in for Hannah and Julia in for Kamila. The team looked more stable with Erin and Julia giving the team a more solid base in back court and Julia converting that into good hits. Even so, PVC won the second set 25-13.
For the final set, coach Paul rang the changes again to make sure everyone got as much court time as possible; Hannah replaced Olga, Kamilla switched to middle leaving Erin and Julia as outside hitters. PVC continued to serve well and dominate to win the third set 25-8.
Although the score looks bruising, this was Monica's third match, Hannah's third match for us and it was Kamila's first match of any sort for 11 years.
The local league team exists to help people to develop and to get people back into volleyball. The squad has had a lot less practice time, therefore, we are delighted that so many girls and women have taken to the court and have shown real development. More importantly, it is so rewarding to hear the laughter and enjoyment of all the players.
In September of last year, we received a grant from Sport England to help start our club. The grant went towards paying for equipment such as volleyballs, nets, posts, etc, team kit and hall hire. The money was actually given to us to help us create a women's volleyball club ... to create a vibrant, fun community for girls and women.
So, how have we done?
This was made possible by Sport England. Our most heartfelt thanks for your help.