East Midlands League
Friday 9th February
Loughborough Uni 1 Leicester Athena 3
Athena's regional league team got back to winning ways with a convincing performance against Loughborough University.
Watched by Charlie and Ioanna from the local league team plus a few friends and family, all who had made the trip to Loughborough, Athena started with a strong team with Sarah setting, Sam and Kamila hitting through the middle plus Adela and Kristy as outside hitters, Athena eased into a strong lead in the first set. That allowed the coach to bring Liza on for Kamila and Julia on for Kristy. Athena won the set 25-13.
Athena started the second set with the same 6 that finished the first as coach Paul showed his determination to give his local league players more experience at this level. The re-jigged team worked hard to eek out a strong lead that they kept through to the end, winning the second set 25-17.
For the third set, Athena brought Emma on as setter for her first regional match, with Sarah moving to opposite. Emma showed no nerves at all, sending clear high passes to both middle and out wide, giving Kamila and Kristy lots of great sets which they duly dispatched for winning hits. As the set drew on, Athena's first pass became more wayward and that led to players being pulled out of position. On the other side of the net, Loughborough rallied to defend admirably and they deservedly won the third set 25-20.
Athena reverted their starting 6 for the start of the fourth set and, having dropped a set, they responded with a performance of real power, blasting into a 14-2 lead. Julia and Liza both got more court time as Athena closed the match out with a 3 sets to 1 win (25-13, 25-17, 20-25, 25-14).
It was an assured performance which allowed the coach to experiment and give valuable experience to players who should become regular regional league players in the coming months.