East Midlands Volleyball League
Monday 26th November 2018
Loughborough Students 1 Leicester Athena 3
In their first match of the season, the regional league team showed great togetherness to beat Loughborough Students. With last year’s championship winning squad moving up to the National League, this is a brand new Athena team composed of a mix of new players, local league players from last year, plus support from Adela and Algi from the NVL squad.
Athena began with Eli setting, Julia as opposite, Milly and Marta playing through the middle and Edyta and Algi as outside hitters. As was only to be expected, it was a nervous start and Athena fell behind quite quickly in the first set, but the girls never stopped working and played with such a great spirit that they began to claw back on Loughborough’s advantage. Eli’s and Edyta’s serving caused problems for the Students and Marta grew into the match, however, Loughborough had enough to win the first set 25-22.
Coach Paul changed the team for the second set, bringing on Ioana as setter, Emma as middle and Adela as outside. Once more, serving was key but Athena’s teamwork and determination to always get the ball back helped them push into a big lead which they held out to win the second set.
Eli came back on for the third set and Athena were now playing with confidence. Marta’s passing from backcourt was exemplary and Eli produced some delightful back-sets for Julia to finish. The momentum was now with Athena and they comfortably won the third set.
With Edyta on for Algi, Athena eased out the match, although, they did wobble when in sight of the finishing line – the excitement of the win meaning that they became a little rushed in their technique. But the recovered their composure to seal victory.
Eli was voted MVP for her destructive serving and for her solid setting, but there were so many other highlights. Marta was fabulous in her first regional league game, Emma showed that middle is her position, Edyta hit the ball with intelligence and Julia showed her game craft by picking out holes in Loughborough’s defence. There will be tougher matches ahead, but everybody played their part and did so with big smiles and warm hearts and that will hold the team in good stead.