Friday 26th April 2019
PVC 3 Leicester Athena 0 (25-18, 25-18, 25-8)
Athena's local league team may have lost to PVC 3-0 but they showed how far they have come with some excellent play. After a very nervy opening, they settled sown and played with real verve and togetherness. Unfortunately, they really struggled with one players serve and that was the difference in the first and third set, however, they kept going and kept chasing and, most pleasing, their positioning and movement showed how much they have learnt.
The local league team has developed a core of players and that consistency has shown in the performances. Charlie's leadership has grown and grown as the season has progressed and she encouraged and urged her team on throughout the match. Her setting has improved a huge amount as well, really impressive for someone only in her second season as a volleyball player. Nikki has really improved over the season to the point where she is a starting outside hitter. Aleksandra has grown in confidence, her hitting and passing and serving are all getting stronger. Ioana's setting has also improved a huge amount and has developed a consistent serve.
Amanda showed why she has now made the step up to regional league with some killer serves, great hits and a solid tactical awareness. Anna is developing as a player, although she does get very very nervous in matches so we are yet to see her best skills. Added to that, it was wonderful to see a couple of the newer players make their debut. After a very nervy start, Maria made an excellent contribution in defence and buzzed energetically around the court. Sue came on for Ioana in the second set as setter and she showed great touch.
With a couple of new players yet to get onto court, with the return of Eve from maternity to look forward to and with a few juniors starting to turn up to training, next season could be a very exciting one.
Well done, ladies.
East Midlands Volleyball League
Wednesday 17th April 2019
Leicester Athena 2 Derby Darkstar 3 (25-19, 23-25, 7-25, 21-25, 6-15)
For the second week running, Athena's regional team suffered fifth set heartache when they lost to Darkstar in another topsy turvy match.
Athena started with Eli setting, Julia starting for the first time in 4 weeks, Sam and Amanda through the middle and Alessandra as outside hitter alongside Adela. Both teams started slowly and serve dominated as neither team were able to consistently build an attack. In a close set, Athena managed to eke out a lead at the end and win 25-19.
The second set was equally tight. Kamila, Eli and Alessandra managed to put together a sequence of serves but each time Athena lost a rally, Darkstar came back hard and they managed to close out the set 25-23.
Athena brought on Kamila and Marta to replace Sam and Amanda and the team never looked balanced. Athena had been dogged rather than spectacular, but, in the third set, Darkstar awoke and they pummelled Athena with hard, deep serves and Michalczyk was hitting tremendously well through 4. Athena could not get going and lost the set 25-7.
If Darkstar thought that they were going to cruise to victory, they reckoned without a fabulous fighting performance from the Athena girls - exemplified by Julia. At one point, she hit and hit and hit until the Darkstar defence could resist no longer. Coach Paul had restored Amanda and Sam through the middle and all six players chased and harried and ground out points to win 25-21.
And so it went to a final set. Darkstar began brightly with their MVP Kaminskaite directing the attacks. At the turnaround, it was 8-3 and Darkstar run out winners 15-6 in the final set.
Julia is back from injury and picking up MVP awards, well done to her. Well done to Eli who is playing through the pain. Well done to Adela who has been playing as opposite for the NVL team for the past few months and playing outside caused her a bit of confusion once or twice.
One more match left, this time against Loughborough Students. Let's hope we can record our fifth win of the season.
East Midlands Volleyball League
Wednesday 10th April 2019
Leicester Athena 2 Nottingham Casualties 3 (28-26, 11-25, 25-22, 19-25, 7-15)
Athena's regional team played a match full of highs and lows in their five set encounter with Casualties.
Captain Julia returned to the bench after her ankle injury with Alessandra playing opposite Eli. Amanda and Sam played middle and Edyta and Algi were our outside hitters. Athena started slowly but managed to keep pace with Casualties. Halfway through the set, Athena seemed to step up a gear and start to dictate the set only for Nottingham to peg things back and Athena managed to clinch the first set 28-26. It was to be a foretaste of the whole match.
Athena fell asleep in the second set. Their service receive was very poor and Eli was suffering with the amount of running that she had to do. Casualties won 25-11.
For the third set, Julia was restored to opposite and the team clicked and showed some really good play to 25-22. Amanda looked very solid in the middle both in front court and back court and Edyta's serving caused problems.
Despite starting the fourth set well, Athena began to get stuck and Casualties clawed their way into a lead. Alessandra replaced Edyta as outside hitter and her extra height provided a cutting edge to Athena's attacks but the first pass continued to let them down. Eli's had to come off injured late in the set and that thrust Edyta into the unfamiliar role of setter.
Into the fifth and deciding set, Casualties started strongly as Athena struggled to pass cleanly to Edyta. At the change, Casualties were 8-2 up but Eli came back on to set and Athena began to find a way to penetrate their defence. However, Casualties held out to win 15-7 and clinch the win.
Eli won MVP - a well deserved effort for her hard work, strong serving and determination. Thank you to Edyta for gamely going to set when Eli was injured.
East Midlands Volleyball League
Thursday 4th April 2019
Hermitage 0 Leicester Athena 3 (22-25, 19-25, 13-25)
A strong regional team put in a good performance to beat a resilient Hermitage to complete the double over them.
Work commitments stripped Athena of a number of players so Tereza was drafted in from the NVL squad to play as an outside hitter. Athena started with Eli setting and Ioana as opposite, Kamila and Marta as middles and Edyta and Tereza as outside hitters. Good serving from Edyta and Kamila helped Athena build a big lead until Hermitage called a time out. Hermitage came back on court and regrouped and began to claw back Athena's advantage through some solid defending and great blocking from their MVP Dominique. Eventually, Athena regained control and saw out the set 25-22.
The second set was a closer affair from the start with neither team able to gain a distinct advantage. Athena's pass was becoming wayward and Hermitage's strong middle blocking meant that Athena had to find other avenues to attack. Thankfully, Tereza began to find her feet playing in this unfamiliar position and began to consistently hit winners through 4. The pressure of Athena's attack began to tell and they won the second 25-19.
Coach Paul said he wanted his side to thrill him in the third set and they did not disappoint. Edyta was in the groove, hitting from back court, jump serving and covering every inch of the back of the court .. she was well-deserving of her MVP nomination. Marta's passing was spot on, Ioana was covering and stepping into set when Eli needed help and Eli was beginning to set wider to Tereza's left hand to create more chances. Amanda came on for Kamila and hit winners through the middle. Athena won the third set 25-13 to finish 3-0.
It was a very good performance, everyone contributed and the togetherness and effort on court shows how this team is steadily improving. Well done to Edyta for her MVP nomination, even the referee remarked at how well she played.
Finally, thank you to Sarah for coming to support and for bossing our Instagram story feed with videos and photos, check them out here: