Athena suffered defeat in their National Shield match against a very good MK City outfit.
After losing to Ashfield in the first round of the National Cup, Athena dropped into the National Shield and faced another regional league team from Milton Keynes.
The first set was very close with MK City's outside hitter, Walker, causing all sorts of problems for Athena's block defence. Using her as their main outlet, Walker esnured that MK City won the first set 25-21.
The second set followed a very similar pattern with Athena fighting hard to stay in contention. Athena's attack sharpened up in the second set with Kristy, Sam and Adela all making strong contributions. Yet again, KM City's greater firepower helped them to win the set 25-20..
It wasn't until the third set that Athena managed to consistently blocker Walker. Sam and Kamila, in particular, made huge blocks against her and Sarah worked really hard ti set the block properly. Eventually, Walker began to hit into the net more and MK City started to use different options which allowed Athena the opportunity to defend more and create better attacking options. Even when MK City got through the block, Rhetta's back court defence was outstanding. Athena squeezed the set 25-21.
The release of joy from Athena players was evident but it meant that they lost that intensity and aggressiveness and they could not get their first pass going in the fourth set. Even bringing Michelle on for Kristy, while Kristy was in back court, could not change things enough. The fourth set was a bit of damp squib after the excitement and promise of the third set and MK City sealed the match 25-12.
It was a really high quality match played in an excellent spirit and it was a great advert for regional league level volleyball. Well done to Sarah, Kristy, Kamila, Sam, Alysia, Rhets and, especially, to Adela ... MVP!!!!