YARRA Valley Grammar Ariels have entered the Victorian Netball League’s Championship division top four for the first time this season after beating Monash University Storm in Round 10.
Trailing 22-21 at half-time, Ariels sunk 14 goals in both the third and fourth quarters to seal consecutive wins for just the second time this season.
A third-quarter defensive switch that saw former Melbourne Vixen Shannon Eagland shifted from wing defence to goal keeper in a bid to quell Storm goal shooter Stacey Northey paid off, with Monash held to 17 goals in the second half.
The win lifted Ariels into fourth position, just above North East Blaze, who looked the goods early against the undefeated City West Falcons before fading in the second half.
Blaze put Falcons on the back foot with a storming 14-10 opening quarter, before City West responded to square the scores at 23-23 by half-time.
Falcons goal keeper Emily Mannix and wing defence Chloe Watson again featured in the umpires’ votes after helping stem the flow of Blaze goals in the second half as City West registered its 10th win on the trot, 46-38.
Peninsula Waves consigned VU Western Lightning to a fifth loss from their last six games in what became an easy 58-38 result.
Waves coach Jess Whitfort said Waves dealt with some physical VU defence and set up the win with a 6-0 run to start the game.
“Our best players were in our attack end. (Goal shooter) Maddie Morrison had a season best performance of 39 from 43 attempts at 93 per cent,” Whitfort said.
“It was a great 20-point win to secure a clear third position on the ladder after a disappointing one-point loss last week.”
Southern Saints welcomed Amy Steel back into their line-up to take on Fed Uni Ballarat Pride after last week’s tight loss to Geelong, and the Vixens defender collected three MVP votes while helping her team end a three-game losing run.
Pride hung tough in the first quarter and trailed by four, but with rising 17 and Under star Rahni Samason netting 40 goals from 45 attempts, Saints surged in the second quarter and continued building their advantage after half-time to extend the scoreline to 58-36.
Pride’s coaches credited the Saints defence with limiting Ballarat’s feeding options and punishing their mistakes.
“When Pride adapted and played smart netball the game was more even but (it was) too little, too late,” they said.
Boroondara Genesis posted their second biggest victory of the year in an emphatic 73-40 display against Geelong Cougars.
Cougars couldn’t recapture their winning form from last week, with Genesis racking up 19 goals in both the second and fourth quarters.
Geelong coach Gerard Murphy said facing a goal circle that featured Vixen Erin Hoare (35 from 41) and young tall Emma Ryde-Coad (18 from 25) was made all the more difficult by the absence of regular Cougars goal keeper Keisha Guilmartin.
“Rachel Leader stepped up from her usual position in goals to take on a defensive role and was able to earn a few positive turnovers and persisted to change and pressure the gaolers,” Murphy said.
“Genesis at full strength, with state and national representatives across the court, had too much firepower.”
ALL-OUT attack set up Geelong Cougars’ first win over a top four team this season in Division 1 – a 62-51 victory over Boroondara Genesis.
Cougars turned the tables on their Round 7 clash, – which fell Genesis’ way 48-40 – steadily pulling away each quarter off the back of 94 per cent shooting from Ruby Horton (45 from 48) and Simone Hickman (17 from 18).
Geelong coach Sascha Velduis said her defence end did its part in setting up the win.
“A tireless defensive effort and whole court pressure made it difficult for Genesis to score, with ample opportunities being created and capitalised on,” she said.
A broken finger for goal attack Bridgette Furphy wasn’t enough to stop Yarra Valley Grammar Ariels taking the points against Monash University Central.
Furphy was forced from the court after sustaining the injury early in the second quarter, but Ariels maintained their first-quarter lead and held on to win 38-32 despite an error-riddled final quarter from both teams.
VU Western Lightning dropped out of the top four after Peninsula Waves had the better of their contest on Court 3.
Waves led by 10 goals at half-time before Lightning cut the margin to six goals in the third quarter.
But with match MVP Shannon Rennison controlling the defensive end, Waves held VU to just six goals in the final quarter as they again moved clear to win 43-33.
City West Falcons quickly stamped out an early challenge from DC North East Blaze to remain on top of the Division 1 ladder.
Leading 8-7 at quarter-time, Falcons poured in 20 goals to six in the second quarter, with centre Toni Lind earning MVP honours as they skipped to a 55-34 win.
Southern Saints was yet another team to withstand some early pressure before kicking clear, with the bayside team turning a one-goal quarter-time lead into a 53-36 win against Fed Uni Ballarat Pride.
Chloe Curran again impressed under the post, with 41 goals from 46 attempts, while Tarryn Munro was named best on court as Saints stayed within half a game of Falcons.
19 AND UNDER
FIVE teams sit within one win of third place in VNL’s tightly contested 19 and Under division, with City West Falcons clambering back into the top four with a 47-33 win over DC North East Blaze.
Blaze saved their best for last, netting 15 goals to eight in an impressive final quarter, but with Falcons having opened up a 21-goal lead by the final change, it was too little, too late.
Second-placed Monash University Storm pushed Yarra Valley Grammar Ariels out of the top four with a 51-43 victory that reversed the two teams’ Round 1 result.
Despite Ariels goaler Samantha Gooden shooting a perfect 34 from 34, Storm were too consistent and delivered plenty of supply to Natalie Billings (23 from 26) and Hannah Flanders (17 from 18) to set up a winning 11-goal advantage by half-time.
Geelong Cougars had their fourth win in a row while inflicting Boroondara Genesis’ fourth consecutive loss in a match that went down to the wire.
Cougars led by no more than six goals at any of the breaks before holding on to win 46-41, with Geelong coach Jill Leader admitting her team had its work cut out trying to put the match away.
“The scores were close for most of the game and we had opportunities to push away but Genesis kept hanging on,” Leader said.
VU Western Lightning is the form team of the competition after notching its fourth win on the trot, this time a solid 52-37 result against Peninsula Waves.
The match was still in the balance at three-quarter time, with Lightning up 36-29, but they put the result beyond doubt in the final 15 minutes, courtesy of a 16-8 quarter and some impressive late shooting from substitute goaler Jacinta Savory (11 from 16).
Southern Saints withstood a hectic opening few minutes before imposing themselves on Fed Uni Ballarat Pride in the biggest win of the round.
The teams traded goals early before Saints lit a fuse that saw them race to a 21-6 quarter-time lead and add another 18 goals to five in the second quarter before waltzing to a 68-31 scoreline.
Pride’s coaches said their defensive line was given a torrid time by Saints’ disciplined attack end.
“The young Pride players are learning their craft under intense pressure and are able to match their opponents for short bursts only at this stage,” they said.