The Local League team has made amazing progress this season. We have seen players return and had new players arrive.
The spirit of the team is something that has developed the most and in the best possible way. We have not won a single match this season - but that didn't get us down. We have played some excellent volleyball during our matches.
In previous seasons, we have had much more experienced players step in to play with with us in matches when we have struggled to get players together. But this season, each and every one of our matches has had the same "core-team". Because of that we have developed a very good team spirit and a feeling of camaraderie. The commitment from the Local League players has been amazing throughout the whole of the season with players regularly turning up to training and helping out to referee and score matches for both the Regional and National Teams.
Despite starting the season by losing match after match 3-0, we have slowly begun to turn the tables and managed to take a set from our last two matches. This is the proof that our teamwork is beginning to come together - to gel and solidify. I genuinely believe that, had we not cut the season short - there was a good chance we could have won one of our last matches this year.
Grit and Determination
Not only have we developed as a team, we have also developed as individuals. Some of the Local League are beginning to show signs of potentially moving up into the Regional League squad thanks to their regular attendance and hard work. It takes grit and determination to progress - and that is something that the Local League has buckets of.
Thanks to Charlie for the end of Local League season review
Monday 9th March 2020
Loughborough Students 2 Leicester Athena 1 (25-19, 25-22, 25-18)
Decked out in the super new kit from Sportsway Management, Athena’s local league team took on Loughborough Students on Monday night and showed how far they have improved this season.
Athena started with Charlie and Rachael setting, Alex and Anna middle hitters and Ioana and Maria as outside hitters. Athena started nervously and the first set was a story of little mistakes and errors. The first pass was wayward and there were a few serve errors, but when the ball was in play, Athena’s movement and precision was very impressive. Anna, in particular, caught the eye with excellent serving and strong passing and Ioana’s covering was excellent. Sadly, there weren’t enough fluent periods and the Students won the first set 25-19.
The second set was completely different with Athena playing with confidence. Alex was dominating play in front and back court, Maria was hitting well and the whole team clicked. Their movement and cohesion showed how hard they have been working in training. Athena were well ahead in the set when they had a little wobble. After losing so many sets and matches, it was to be expected for them to get a little excited as the finish line appeared, but they calmed themselves down and won the set 25-22.
The final set began in much the same vein, but with the scores at 9-9, one of the Students started serving and her hard, low, accurate serves caused problems for Athena. She took the set to 17-9 when she was substituted by the Student’s coach, but the damage was done. Athena traded points with Loughborough as Rachael showed how much she is developing in her first year and Charlie was there urging players on. However, Loughborough saw out the match by winning the final set 25-18.
Coach Paul was delighted with the overall performance. It was a clear demonstration of the effort in training and they are developing into a good team that plays well-structured volleyball. Junior players, Evie and Barbora got some valuable court time as did Sab, who was returning after a stiff shoulder.
Athena's local league team had the chance to practice their defensive positioning in a friendly match against University of Leicester's 2nd team.
Athena brought 10 players: Charlie, Alex, Ioana, Eve, Racheal, Evie, Sab, Priya, Maria and Nikki.
The match gave a lot of players the chance to improve their confidence. Sab excelled through the middle as did Maria playing outside, both playing some of their best volleyball of the season. Rachel had the chance to grow into the role of setter as did Evie.
Athena struggled to settle in the first set but began to ease into the match in the second, with much improved movement and positioning. By the third set, they had found their groove and won the set easily - despite battling the low sun glaring through the windows of the Danielle Brown Sports Centre.
Coach Paul was really pleased with how the squad worked and put into praxtice the stuff they have been doing in training.
A big thank you to University of Leicester for hosting us, it was much appreciated.
Monday 17th February 2020
Loughborough Students 2 Leicester Athena 1 (25-13, 19-25, 25-18)
Athena's local league side won their first set of the season with a great display of teamwork, scrambling and hard work.
Due to a number of players not being available, Athena had to mix and match with Charlie playing her first ever match as an outside hitter, Eve playing her first match through the middle this season and Priya making her debut.
Athena started with Ioana and Rachael setting, Eve and Alex playing middle, Charlie and Maria as outside hitters but they struggled to control their nerves and were quickly behind. The first pass was poor, too few attacks were generated and too many serves went out, giving Loughborough a big advantage. When the ball did get to the setters, Athena matched the Students in the longer rallies but the Students won the first set 25-13.
Priya replaced Maria for her first match with us and her industry in the backcourt meant that Athena were able to pick up the loose pass, recycle the ball and force Loughborough into mistakes. Charlie grew into her role including the champagne moment of the match where her serve receive went high to the setter, who pushed a great set wide for Charlie to leap and drive an excellent cross-court winner. Athena won the set 25-18.
Maria came back for Priya and Evie came on for Rachael for her third ever match. Loughborough picked up their play and their serving again put Athena under pressure, but this time, they carried on chipping away, thanks, in part, to some excellent serving from Alex. Despite that, Students sealed the match 25-18.
Rachael had a fabulous match belying the fact that she started playing in September, Priya showed that she is going to be an excellent addition to the squad and Charlie's leadershisp was brilliant as always.
Wednesday 22nd January 2010
Leicester Athena 0 Loughborough Students 3 (11-25, 14-25, 9-25)
Despite the scoreline, this was a much better performance by Athena's local league team, they were simply beaten by a much more experienced and better team.
Athena started with Ioana and Charlie as setters, Alex and Anna as middle hitters and Nikki and Maria as outside hitters. And they started very well. They passed well, they moved well around court and communicated well. Nikki's pass was excellent and, for such a young player, she really took ownership for the service receive. Ioana was chasing any wayward passes and getting the ball up for the hitters. However, Loughborough were very well organised, their pass always made it to their setter and their serving was strong and accurate. It was the serving that undid Athena and they began to stretch away with two very strong serve rounds to win 25-11.
Athena started the second set with the same players, but this time they started slowly. Eventually, they began to pass better allowing Alex and Anna to hit hard through the middle. Yet again, though, service receive was Athena's weak point. Rachael replaced Charlie as setter and Sabina came on for Alex but they could not arrest the slide and they lost 25-14.
Athena had a definitely youthful look about the team for the final set as Coach Paul made lots of changes. Emily and Charlie played outside, Sab and Alex played middle and Evie and Ioana played as setter. With so many changes, it was unsurprising the they struggled to gel, but the inexperienced team worked hard and showed a lot of promise.
Although Athena's local team has yet to win a set this season, as individuals and as a team, they are improving. Ioana worked tirelessly and showed a lot of leadership. Sab's pass and hitting looked very good Evie was excellent as setter, Alex and Anna are becoming good middle hitters. A little bit more work on service receive that they will start to click!
Thank you to Amanda for scoring, and to Barbora, Catarina for line judging. It was good to see so many of our junior squad turning up to play and help out.
Friday 10th January 2020
PVC 3 Leicester Athena 0 (25-19, 25-13, 25-5)
A very inexperienced local league team struggled to make an impact against a solid PVC team.
Missing Ioana and Amanda, Athena started with Charlie, Eve, Maria, Anna, Alex and Rachel, who was a starting player for the first time. Athena started slowly, falling 6-1 down before Coach Paul called a time out. Nervousness and tightness meant that Athena's first pass was non-existant. Athena continued to struggle until they were 12-5 down. Youngsters Evie and Nikki replaced Eve and Maria and the team relaxed and began to make headway, clawing the set back to within 2 points before PVC closed the set out 25-19.
Athena started the second set with the same team that started the first but they really struggled to cope with PVC's serving. They fell behind and lost their confidence. Once again, Coach Paul made changes with Evie and Sab coming on but there was to be no turning the set round.
For the third set, Sab, Nikki and Evie all started but Athena still failed to pass the ball to the setters and they lost the last set 25-5.
It was a disappointing defeat, but it is a reflection on the inexperience in the team. Charlie, Anna and Alex have been with us for less than 3 years, Alex coming back from a nasty looking ankle injury in October. Eve, Maria and Sab have been with us less than a year. Rachel started playing this year and Nikki and Evie are young and learning quickly.
So we will learn so me lessons, work hard and get ready for the next match.
Friday 22nd November 2019
PVC 3 Leicester Athena 0 (25-12, 25-13, 25-9)
Athena's local league team showed definite signs of progress in their second loss to PVC in 3 weeks ago.
This time, Athena had an even less experienced team and they showed glimpses of excellent volleyball. They started the first set with Charlie and Ioana as setters, Anna and Sab as middle hitters and Eve and Maria as outside hitters. They started much quieter than the first match and they played with a degree of nervousness. Arms jabbed at the ball, hitters snatched at opportunities and PVC managed to established a strong lead through accurate serving. At 22-11 down, Coach Paul put 15 year old Barbora on for her first ever adult match as she replaced Anna. Despite her obvious nervousness, she still made a couple of good passes.
Athena reverted to their starting six for the second set and started much better. They passed better, chased and were able to win the scrappy points. Midway through the match, Athena were still in the set, but then the nervousness crept back in and they struggled to cope with a series of serves from Jacob. Evie replaced Eve to make her debut at 16 years old.
For the third set, Eve had to look after her baby meaning that Evie started the set - a big responsibility for such a young player. Despite that, she threw herself into the match admittedly, helped by her elder players coaxing her through the rotations. Barbora then replaced a fading Sab and we finished the match with 2 juniors on court.
Despite the loss, Coach Paul was delighted with some of the play, especially the penultimate point where Anna went on an arc route through to smash a winner through the middle. Very high quality volleyball.
A big well done to Ioana who played despite feeling pretty rubbish because of a cold. Well done to Anna who is starting to show the quality she demonstrates in training on match days. There was a lot of stuff to work on, but most importantly, there are signs of a very good team coming together.
Wednesday 30th October 2019
Leicester Athena 0 PVC 3 (10-25, 10-25, 5-25)
Although the scoreline may make it seem that Athena were heavily beaten, the truth was that this was a lot closer match than the score shows.
Athena had an extremely inexperienced team with Racheal and Freya playing their first ever matches and with Sabina, Anna, Nikki, Maria and Eve having only played a few matches before. They were supported by Charlie, Ioana and Amanda.
PVC had to call on Athena regional league players Eli and Tereza to make their six and, even with Jacob in their ranks, they were a team boasting many years of experience.
Despite their inexperience, Athena played a lot of neat volleyball, exhibiting clean technique that delighted their coach, Paul. What stopped them getting closer to PVC was their inability to create strong attacks and their inability to cope with Christine's serves. But it was a display full of great promise.
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.
Training today saw a lot of new faces, some brand new! Today was Bethan’s’ first day, with Jelanshi, Sue, Ann, Adele and Sabine’s second or third training session with Leicester Athena. This meant we had a very mixed bag of players of all abilities. We also had players from our Regional and National Squads join us in this practice session!
To start off and to warm us up, we did some fitness drills with some cones and small hurdles to work on agility. We then we moved into our usual warm-up that we do at each and every session, whether it’s before training or a match.
Then, Coach Paul took the newcomers to one side to practice some of the basics. They started with hand-eye co-ordination by passing the ball back and forth, and then moved onto some volleying and digging practice.
The more experienced team practiced a drill involving blocking, receiving, serving, setting and spiking the ball. The drill involved the team having more precision in their technique. Due to the sheer volume of players, people weren’t keeping warm and the accuracy of the volleyball wasn’t up to scratch ~ so Paul switched things around. We moved onto a drill involving digging which warmed up the team a lot more! We built up a good sweat practicing our receiving!
Paul then ran some positioning drills including where on court each player is meant to cover during the rally. When the attack was through the outside (position 4), the middle (position 3) or through the right side (position 2), players had to move fast into their defensive positions.
After all the drills were done, we then had a couple of practice matches to put the positioning into action. Anna enjoyed working on our positioning on court the most this week, since it’s something that will keep the ball in play for longer.
Sue said “There were a lot more continuous volleys this time! Made it good fun!”
Some of the new players feel that training this week will leave them aching, and I know that will make coach very happy. ☺
With a bit of time left afterwards, we played “Queen of the Court” and some of the newcomers participated to have a small taste of how fast things move during play.
All in all it was an amazing turn out, with Charlie, Ioana, Alex, Anna, Eli, Paulina, Jelanshi, Emma, Edyta, Ann, Adele, Beth, Sabine, Sue and Nikki at training ~ 15 players!
Let’s keep it going team!
Charlie ~ Local League Captain