An exciting time lies ahead for North East Blaze as the club prepares for the 2019 season of the Bupa Victorian Netball League. Despite the heartbreaking losses Blaze faced in the final stretch of 2018 season, the club have recouped with their sights set on premiership glory.
With a wealth of experience in their Championship team and coaching panel, Blaze have set the benchmark for quality netball.
Blaze has been a constant powerhouse in the Bupa VNL and has often held a stranglehold over the competition, much to the dismay of the other clubs. Unfortunately, in the 2018 season, their Championship squad suffered a heartbreaking loss to City West Falcons in round 18 resulting in the defending champions finishing fifth place on the ladder, which deemed them ineligible for finals.
Their Division One and 19 & Under teams saw a similar fate; after magnificent season where their young athletes dominated the court, their Division One team fell to eventual premiers Hawks Netball in the preliminary final. Meanwhile, their 19 & Under squad were defeated at the last hurdle as they succumbed to Boroondara Express in the grand final by just two goals.
Despite these devastating losses, Blaze has demonstrated their resilience and will be returning to the Bupa VNL stronger than ever before with some fresh faces donning the black dress.
“We have recruited some young great talent and continue to challenge our players by providing opportunities in our Championship and Division One sides,” said Blaze coach Kelli Zealley.
“Our experienced leadership players will continue to nurture that transition and we are confident we have selected wisely to get a great balance for the longevity of the club.”
In addition to their successful recruitment of acclaimed netballers, Blaze can celebrate the resigning of Rebecca Cowell, the 2018 Hot Shot Award recipient, and proficient young talents Abbey Ellis and Meg Williams.
“I’m excited to see how our young players will perform with the opportunities we provide them in 2019”, notes Zealley.
“The strength of the VNL allows for a high-performance level of competition, which is extremely important for athletes to get the opportunity to play at the next level.”
It is evident that Blaze will once again raise the bar of intensity, determination and skill in 2019. While the players will be treated to a break before Christmas, the athletes will “come back raring to go in January.”
The Bupa VNL season will begin on Wednesday 27 March 2019.