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
Athena's local league team showed a lot of nerves at the start of their match against PVC, but by the end they were showing their skills.
Captain Charlie said, after the match "Out of the last three matches or so, this has been my favourite." Despite her strong desire to win, she recognises that this team is about development. "It’s about how we learn. How we practice. How we believe in ourselves, and that changes how we play ... individually and as a team."
Athena has Charlie and Ioana as setters, Amanda returning from a broken finger as middle hitter along with Anna and Alex. Alex had to play with a plastic mask after breaking her nose whilst playing beach volleyball on holiday recently. Edyta and Nikki were outside hitters.
Athena's slow start
Amanda started on the bench and the six on court just froze. They struggled to cope with the hard deep serves from two of PVC's better players and lost the first set 25-9.
With Alex taking her turn on the bench, Athena started to find their feet, they relaxed into the match. Anna made a couple of great blocks and Amanda hit some good winners - all based on the fact that the defence were able to pass the ball to Charlie and Ioana with some regularity. However, PVC's greater experience saw them edge a much closer second set.
For the final set, Anna stepped off and Nikki started to relax into the match and showed how solid she is when receiving the ball. The movement and teamwork were excellent and they took PVC very close.
Lessons to learn
As Charlie said, with such an inexperienced squad, this season is all about development and they showed that, when they relax, that they can play good volleyball and worry other teams.
Here is Charlie's assessment of her team mates:
Thanks to Charlie for her words
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.
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.
Leicestershire Volleyball League
Wednesday 12th December 2018
Leicester Athena 0 PVC 3
The local league team put up a good fight against a very experienced PVC side. Athena started with Ioana and Charlie setting, Alex and Anna as middle hitters and Nikki and Adela as outside. The match flowed back and forth on serve but PVC started to pull ahead through their middle players, Tereza and Rachel. Their experience, height and skill level as too much for Alex and Anna who are still only just learning their role.
In the second set, Kasia replaced Nikki and showed some excellent movement at first. Once more, the middle hitting from PVC was key as they pinched point after point. For the final set, Emily came on as part of her volleyball education.
As mentioned before, this is a very inexperienced team with a number of players in only their first or second season of playing volleyball, so putting up such a good fight against a PVC side that can boast players of considerable experience and skill showed that they are all progressing well. Charlie is learning quickly as a setter, Kasia has improved immensely over the past 12 months and each player can point to improvements they have made.
Leicestershire Volleyball League
Monday 12th November 2018
Loughborough Students 2 Leicester Athena 1
Athena's local league team got their season off to a solid start against Loughborough Students at the Sir David Wallace Hall in Loughborough.
For Amanda, it was a strange experience as it was here, 2 years ago, that she fell and broke both arms. Happy to say the memories did not affect her at all.
First set nerves
Athena played a mix of experienced and emerging players. This was Charlie's first match as setter, for Eli, Laura, Aleksandra and Eve, it was their first matches for us and for Amanda, it was her first match since that injury. With so many new players, it was unsurprisingly that it took some time to settle. In the first set, the starting six of Charlie, Ioana, Alex, Amanda, Adela (getting some much needed practice after missing a lot of training through work) and Kasia were soon down by 5 or 6 points before Coach Paul called a time out and asked the players to take a breath and remember to enjoy themselves. Loughborough, however, were relentless and their serving stretched the lead out even further through some very good serving until Athena began to settle into the match. Even so, Loughborough won the set 25-18.
Laura and Eve's first time on court
For the second set, Paul brought on Laura, Eve and Eli for Kasia, Aleksandra and Charlie. Laura was clearly nervous but she pulled off some fabulous first passes on service receive. The movement and positioning around the court showed how much work they have done in training. The changes of personnel were designed to give people court time but it did mean that the momentum that Athena were beginning to build at the end of the first set and Loughborough won the second 25-18 again.
A fabulous finish
For the final set, Charlie and Eli were setters, Alex and Eve played middle and Adela and Kasia were back as outside hitters. Some fabulous serving from Kasia helped Athena into a strong lead and Eve served five in a row to seal the set 25-9.
It was a performance that they all should be very proud of and it shows that this group has the potential to grow and improve. A big thank you to Sarah, the NVL captain, for coming to support and chip in with wise words.
Leicestershire Local League
Wednesday 11th April
Leicester Athena 1 Hermitage 2
Athena's local league team showed signs of improvement in their home match against Hermitage despite a lot of changes in personnel throughout the match.
Athena had Charlie, Erin, Emma, Hannah, Ioanna, Teo, Algi, Nikki and Julia to call on and in the first set, coach Paul made sure they all had court time. The disruption did lead to Athena starting slowly and losing the first set 25-14.
Coach Paul put out a more settled 6 for the second set and Julia, Erin, Emma, Teo, Algi and Ioana showed a lot of great skills to win 25-17.
Teo moved from middle to outside hitter and Hannah took over setter duties for the final set. It took the new 6 players a while to click into place but, one they did, they pushed Hermitage to the end and lost out 22-25 in a very entertaining final set.
Despite the loss, the team played well and they are getting used to the new system and getting used to play with each other.
Leicestershire Local League
Sunday 25th March
Leicester Athena 0 Leicester Uni 3
Despite their best performance of the season, Athena's local league side lost to Leicester Uni 3-0.
Athena started with Ioana and Hannah setting, Emma and Charlie playing middle and Julia and Algi playing outside hitters. Athena started very brightly and went into a 4 point lead, but they ran out of steam towards the end of the set to lose it 22-25.
The second set was a tight affair all the way through, but superior serving by Leicester Uni turned out to be the key. Nikki came on for her first match and drew a big cheer when she dug her first ball nice and high to the setter ... a 14 year old mixing it her elders.
Athena struggled to get going in the third set and Leicester Uni won the match, 25-22, 25-20, 25-14. But with a 17 year old captain and a 14 year old making her debut, the performance and the progress is not what is most important. The team as a whole played with much better control, accuracy and teamwork.
Leicestershire Local League
Thursday 15th March
Hermitage 2 Leicester Athena 1
After a very lethargic start, Athena's local league team fought back well to push Hermitage all the way.
Athena started with Emma and Ioana setting, Liza and Kamila through the middle and Teo and Julia as outside hitters. But the first set was disappointing as the team took time to gel. Hermitage played solid volleyball and won the set 25-14.
With Algi making her debut for Teo and Charlie replacing Liza, Athena started the second set in a much better shape. There was a lot more movement and a higher work-rate and it meant that they edged a tight set 25-22.
Liza came back on for Charlie and Athena looked a lot more settled now. They worked well to pull out a strong lead, Julia's calmness and vision creating lots of points, and they were leading 22-18 until a case of nerves struck the team and they let the set (and the match) slip 25-22.
It was a real shame because, after such a sluggish start, the team had done really well to get into a winning position. But team is still inexperienced and, having not won many games, it is understandable that they don't yet have the resilience to close games out.