Round 9 marked the half way point for the 2019 Bupa VNL season, every team now having played each other. This Round also saw Casey Demons and Peninsula Waves play the inaugural VNL match at the newly redeveloped HE Parker Reserve netball courts now known as Maroondah Nets.
The City West Falcons Championship squad took their 9th consecutive win of the season to remain undefeated while the top two teams from Division One, North East Blaze and Geelong Cougars, battled it out for top position.
In an extremely physical contest, Cougars took on Blaze for a spectacle of a match between 2nd and 3rd place that all came down to a post siren penalty shot.
Both teams, on the back of decisive Round 8 wins, stepped on court, pulsating with intensity. With Blaze’s defenders sticking tight on the body of Cougar’s goalers, they attained a 3-goal lead at the end of the first quarter after.
Blaze’s drive towards the ball and decisive change of direction made it difficult for Cougars to get in front for intercepts, giving Blaze the advantage they needed to create options and smoothly transition the ball down the court. Not missing a shot in the second quarter, Blaze maintained their lead to extend their 3-goal lead to 4 at the end of the first half.
Cougars had a standout third quarter to tighten the margin to a 2-goal difference and catch Blaze off guard to force much needed turnovers in their favour. Heightened pressure over the ball by Cougars and their variation of passes into the goals demonstrated their skill level that have made them serious competitors all season.
In a fight to the finish, Cougars came out with ferocity to take a 3-goal lead in the last quarter. Neither team backing down, the scores fluctuated all through the quarter making it hard to predict which team would come out on top.
Scores tied up at 55-all, Cougars broke Blaze’s final center pass to get the ball to Bridgette Furphy in Goal-Shooter who drew a contact against her defender right on the siren to take a penalty shot to win the match. As she raised the ball the crowd watched with anticipation. The ball released only to bounce off the ring and determine a draw of 55, leaving the two teams with unfinished business.
The two will face each other next in Round 17 at Community Bank Stadium, Diamond Creek.
After an unfortunate loss to Southern Saints last week, Hawks were looking to redeem themselves as Boroondara were hunting down their second win of the season.
A strong start from both squads, Daisy Hill from Hawks didn’t miss a shot which helped her team to steal a 1-goal lead at the end of the first quarter. Determined not to stay down, Boroondara kicked into gear for the second quarter to execute decisive plays to get the ball to Clare Vearing in goals to shoot 13-goals from 13-attempts and take control of the match to lead by 4 goals.
Consistent movement to create options down the court and around the circle allowed Hawks to keep Boroondara in their sights with scores heading into the final quarter, Vearing shooting an impressive goal from the edge of the goal circle.
The competition between Adamson and Ryan from Boroondara and Hawks’ Kearns and O’Sullivan in the midcourt made for some striking passes in the final quarter. Consistence from Boroondara in the final quarter saw them take out a tight but thrilling second win, 54-53.
City West Falcons prevailed for the ninth time in a row to remain the only undefeated team in the 2019 VNL season so far.
Falcons possessing a 4-goal advantage at the end of the first half, they ran away in the second quarter to lead by 23 at the end of half time.
Falcons defender, Sarah Szczykulski, gave us her post match thoughts on not only her teams win against Ariels, but the high performance from her team throughout the season.
“We’ve been undefeated in all nine games this season and the combinations on court are coming together so well,
“Obviously we’ve had a couple of tight games but we’ve also been able to pull out some big margins and get some big wins so it’s been amazing.”
According to Szczykulski, Falcons start against Ariels was slower than usual but with high team spirits her team managed to lift to produce the end result they wanted.
“It really was a grindy game. Going into the second we got a couple of intercepts early and got a run on that allowed us to get a really good lead on top of them and create some new combinations which we don’t normally put out on court.”
Despite a standout performance from her team, Szczykulski said there were two players that have come continued to improve in 2019.
“Jini Silvingham’s come a long way this season,
“Even training against her it’s so hard to get the ball off her and now she’s starting to shoot with a bit of range which is something different for her but it keeps the defenders guessing.”
“I also think Zoe Davies had one of her best games of the season so far,
“She really knuckled down on her Goal-Attack which is something shes been working on this season. She was able to swing on to the Goal-Shooter which she took in her stride and got so much ball so it was amazing to work with her tonight.”
Optimistic for the second half of the VNL season, Szczykulski said a back to back win is definitely on the table for her Championship team.
“Obviously we’d like to keep going through undefeated like we have so far,
“I think if we keep going the way we are and keep improving week by week we should hopefully get back in that Grand Final and go back to back.”
An impressive first quarter from Waves left Casey playing catch up at the first VNL match played at Maroondah Nets this year.
Waves more than doubled Casey’s score at the end of the first half, 34-14, as Waves maintained momentum of the ball and pre-emptively worked the ball down the court to their goalers. Despite some impressive goal work from Erin Bell from Casey, Waves were too good this week and scored another 28-goals in the second half to see a convincing win.
An evenly matched four quarter contest left spectators watching on the edge of their seats to see who would come out on top between Saints and Lightning.
Both starting as strong as each other, Lightning and Saints kept scores close, only a 1-goal difference at the end of the first quarter. Strong pressure down the midcourt, Lightning capitalised on turnovers and positioned themselves well in the goals to maintain their 1-goal lead in the second and third quarter.
Saints’ talk and on court communication elevated their play at the latter part of the match as they drove hard and fast for every ball to disrupt Lightning’s play and steal a final quarter win by 2-goals, making it their fifth victory of the season.
Undefeated 1st place Blaze challenged 2nd place Cougars in the fight for Division One top spot. In a fierce contest, Geelong came out on top with a strong second half to gain a lead against Blaze that couldn’t be taken away.
“Yeah we’ve had a really good start and it’s been really exciting with a new team and a lot of young girls this year,” said Blaze Captain, Sam Coppinger as she reflected on the match and her teams’ season.
“We knew coming into the game it was going to be a really close game, we always have a really good contest against cougars,”
“First half was really close and we got a few defensive turnovers that attacking wise we didn’t convert on properly.”
She said like every other Division One team knows, Cougars are known for their defensive abilities which put Blaze under pressure Wednesday night.
“Cougars defensively are really, really hard and they make you work for every single ball, so I think that relentless pressure for the full 60-miutes we probably should have capitalised a bit more on in attack.”
Despite the loss, Coppinger felt her team, in particularly Liv Ellis, were able to bring an equally strong defensive contest to Geelong.
“I thought the team worked really hard. Every single ball we went for and around the circle edge our Centre and Wing-Defence worked their butts off and we got so many turnovers, just a fantastic game tonight.”
Coppinger said they may have lost their undefeated title but this early in the season anyone is still in for a chance at finals.
“I don’t think at this point of the season it really matters where you’re sitting on the ladder. I think every single game’s really hard and if you don’t come in playing your best for the full four quarters then you’re not going to get the four points,
“There’s a couple of things we still need to fine tune but we still have plenty of time, we’re only half way through the year.”
Boroondara’s high performance plays shined once again this week as they tasted sweet victory against Hawks netball to win by 22-goals.
This win makes three in a row for Boroondara as they continue to lift their abilities as the season progresses. Working together in the midcourt, Maddy and Emma Wallmeyer were a dynamic duo who consistently worked hard to assist their goalers to secure 31-goals over Hawks’ 19 at the end of the first half.
Sally Deller and Emily Kay in Hawks’ defence bounced well off to put the pressure on Boroondara by taking any rebounds they could and execute some picturesque holds over the ball.
Consistent and calm like the past few weeks, Boroondara kept the momentum over the four quarters to secure a well-deserved win.
Holding a comfortable lead throughout the duration of the game, it was control of the ball that produced a back-to-back win for Falcons this week.
Despite assertiveness by Ariels in their midcourt and a consistent pressure in defence, Falcons plays down the court could not be beaten especially with such force behind each pass.
Grace Rogers and Alahria Smith in Falcons midcourt made for a fitting combination to dodge their way around players and surprise their players to make a prominent impact on their teams’ game.
Each player from Falcons knew exactly where to pass as if they anticipated the following three passes, which nicely assisted Uneeq Palavi to contribute 46 goals to the Falcons final score, 57-45.
Peninsula’s three-win sweep began with their Division One team seeing victory in a close but decisive contest against Casey. Down by 5-goals at the end of the first half, Casey lifted their intensity in the second half to only miss out to Waves by 3 goals.
Amelia Haughen and Ebony Dolan from Waves positioned themselves strategically around Casey’s goalers to interrupt their play and take grand leaps for rebounds to result in extra goals for Waves.
Southern Saints tasted victory for the first time in 2019 this week as they pushed every step of the way against Lightning.
Remaining in charge and persistent, some intercepts in the first quarter helped Saints get up on Lightning from the first few centres to take a solid lead and ultimately the game. A clear sense of determination gave Saints a more than comfortable 26-goal lead at the end of the third quarter, their largest lead of the season to date.
Keely Boudrie in Saints’ goal end displayed an excellent performance to achieve 49 goals and a shooting accuracy of 91%.
19 & Under
Cougars showed us their comfortable rhythm and conviction for another week to see a win determined by their heightened second half against Blaze.
A fluctuating first half saw Cougars up at the end of the first quarter by 2-goals. This lead was snatched back by Blaze at the end of the first half to flip control of the game, 34-31.
While Ellen Doyle dominated Cougars goals in the first half to shoot 27-goals from 26 attempts, it was Mia Sudomirski playing Wing-Attach for Blaze that stood out in the second half to put pressure on her player while decisively positioning herself around the goal circle.
A change of power in the second half, Cougars switched on their intensity and took a dominant 8-goal lead in the third to come in with an advantage to the final quarter and achieve a 9-goal match win.
This leaves them equal first on the ladder, with City West Falcons.
Securing Hawks Netball’s only win of the night was their 19 & Under team who played a decisive contest to beat Boroondara by 10-goals. 14-all at the end of the first quarter, Hawks broke away over the rest of the match to secure their fifth win this year.
Consistent goaling from Ellie Karaula and Hannah Keane from Hawks saw them both shoot in the 90% accuracy range and shoot a combined 57-goals. This allowed the rest of their team to do play their role knowing their goalers could finish of the team’s hard work.
Falcons see themselves in a prime position as we hit the halfway mark, landing 1st place on the ladder. Falcons’ strong talents as a team were the highlight of their match this week against Ariels with strong framework and strategic play on court.
More than doubling Ariels first quarter score, Falcons maintained their intensity over the four quarters to lead the entire match and achieve a 22 goal win.
Unfortunately for Casey, Round 9 left them still without a win for 2019.
Waves dominated the contest from the get-go to secure a 27-goal win and their sixth win of the season. Jasmin Mackie once again showed us why she is leading the Hot Shot tally as she swiftly shot more than half of Waves’ final score with 38-goals.
Saints continued their winning streak to position themselves in a far better position that what they stood earlier in the season.
Saints extended their first quarter 6-goal lead over the course of the match to secure a 25-goal win against Lightning to snatch 6th place on the ladder.
Impressive efforts in their midcourt communication, Saints transitioning was well executed and made a big impact on the end result. Georgia Moody had a standout match in goals, shooting 30-goals from 33 attempts, and strategically passed around the goal circle to position herself for the optimal spot.
As teams face off against their Round 1 competitors for the second time next week, we get to the point in the season where anything can happen!
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Written by Amellia Wood