East Midlands Regional League
Wednesday 18th April
Leicester Athena 2 Derby Darkstar 3
Athena and Darkstar served up an enthralling encounter at the Morningside Leicester Arena as they battled it out in this top of the table clash.
Watched on by 20 friends and family, Athena started sluggishly. After the first rotation of serves, Darkstar were 18-8 ahead as Athena failed to pass well enough to enable Sarah to create chances for Kristy, Adela, Alysia, Sam and Rebecca. Athena did rally late on thanks to solid serving by Kristy and Sam, but it wasn't enough and Darkstar won 25-20.
Coach Paul rang the changes to try and bolster the first pass. Kristy switched to middle in place of Rebecca, Petra came on for Alysia as opposite and Monika came on as outside hitter. With so many changes, it was to be expected that it take Athena take a little time to settle and Darkstar powered into a strong 9-3 lead. Athena could not rally and lost 25-16.
Two sets to nil down, it was time for some tough talking. With Petra replacing Monika outside and Alysia restored, Athena suddenly looked settled and dangerous. The first pass improved, giving Sarah much better options. Adela started to hit hard, Kristy and Sam began to make headway through the middle and Alysia's leftie hits started to find the corner. Both teams showed their determination with some outstanding rallies and chasing of "lost causes". It was a tight set, but Athena managed to eke out a small lead and hold it throughout the set to win 25-21.
With their tails up, Athena roared into a strong lead in the fourth set. Darkstar's dangerous hitters were missing their mark and hitting into the net under pressure from Sam, Kristy, Sarah and Alysia's memorable blocks. Halfway through, they were cruising at 16-11 and a small comeback by Darkstar was not enough to stop Athena levelling the match at two sets each by winning 25-19.
The deciding set was a tight affair. Both teams traded serves but Darkstar were marginally ahead at the turnaround. Great passing by Petra helped Athena draw level at 13 each but Darkstar's Shayne Hill served out to win the match.
It was a great match with both teams showing lots of determination and effort. Athena made a wonderful recovery from 2-0 down to take it to the deciding set but Athena just ran out of energy at the last.
Well done to Sarah, Alysia, Adela, Rebecca, Sam, MVP Kristy, Petra, Monika and unused sub Alex (so sorry we couldn't get you on court). We move on to the next match!