Athena's perfect start to their first ever regional league campaign crashed to an end when they came up against last season's champions, Darkstar Derby.
Athena began the first set with Erica playing as setter and Kristy in the middle. They started with better intensity than in the previous couple of matches, but could not cope with the low float serves from Darkstar. Darkstar built a commanding lead but Athena began to play much better towards the end of the set to close the gap to 16-25.
A tactical switch to play Kristy as an outside hitter meant that Kinga had to give way as Sam filled for Kristy in the middle. The reshaped team took some time to gel but they fought back from 22-17 down to win the set 25-23. The joy on the faces of the coach and Athena players was clear to see, but they could not sustain the pressure in the 3rd set.
Poor service receive play meant that they gave up 18 points service receive faults Darkstar who won the set 25-8. Despite putting in a lot of hard work, the fourth set showed a similar pattern and Darkstar deservedly won the match 25-16, 23-25, 25-8, 25-12.
There was no questioning the effort from captain Alysia, MVP Kristy, Kinga, Elisa (on her debut for Athena), Valentina, Sam, Erica and Rhetta, but they could not match Darkstar on this occasion.