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.