It was an explosive week for teams at the Bupa VNL this week, Round 15 providing decisive wins, dicey draws and the return of many familiar faces.
With the Deakin University Australian Netball League ending on the weekend, Victorian Fury taking out the premiership, a number of ANL players from both Fury and Tasmanian Magpies were reunited with their VNL teams for some intense competition.
North East Blaze achieved a scorching clean sweep against Boroondara Express. In Championship, it was a fight to the finish for Hawks Netball and Melbourne University Lightning who couldn’t be separated as they came to a high scoring draw.
A tough contest between Blaze and Express this week showcased the talent from both sides. A number of big names returned to the court, such as Vixen and Fury player Lara Dunkley, and some of her fellow Fury athletes including Rudi Ellis, Eleanor Leydin and Elle McDonald.
In the midcourt, Dunkley and McDonald made for striking match-up as the two stuck on each other and manoeuvred their way down the court to drive to space and feed into the goals. Dominance in Blaze’s communication and tactical thinking was evident from the first whistle though, which allowed them to come out blazing and make Express well-aware who’s game was going to be played.
With Libby Nicol tearing it up in goals for another week in a row, Isabelle Hodgson for Express worked equally hard down the court to keep her team in the game, providing plenty of goal assists to Clare Vearing.
Returning to her Express side, Lara Dunkley commented on her teams performance.
“We had a bit of a slow start tonight but picked it up in the second half which showed on the stat sheet, winning both the third and fourth quarter. It’s interesting, having not played with a few of the girls for a while but it felt great to come back to Boroondara and be with such a great club.”
A whirlwind of a year for Dunkley, she said with all the excitement that has come with Fury, the Vixens and her netball progress, she is keen to be back to play VNL for the next few weeks.
“It’s been phenomenal! The weekend was incredible to have that win and especially by one goal, it couldn’t have been anymore exciting. With the Vixens we’re holding strong at the moment so I’m sure I’ll be utilising VNL to get my match fitness up and putting my best foot forward.”
Blaze’s win this week holds their 2nd place position, only one match win ahead of Cougars who will play later in the week.
Another win on the board for Falcons sees them lengthen their margin in the competition and assert themselves as a formidable force as finals approach. However, their win this week didn’t come with ease as Waves came out with force, hoping to disrupt their winning streak. City West had a number of returning ANL players from both Magpies and Fury, including Jane Cook, Jaqui Newton and Tahnysha Salanoa. Waves also had a noticeable name, Renae Ingles playing hard in the midcourt.
Ingles said it was great to be back playing with and against the VNL girls, who well and truly brought the heat this week.
“It’s always a really tough game I think when you come up against the Falcons, especially when they’re sitting on top,
“It’s great for me to have a good hit out like that and a bit of a run around in Centre. I really enjoyed the game with the girls, it’s just a really great competition which is why I really wanted to play in this break because I’m still getting that strong match play.
“And to see players like Jaqui Newton and Maggie Lind for Falcons was awesome.”
Down by 6-goals at half time, Waves picked up their intensity in the third quarter to outscore Falcons by a goal and close the margin. Falcons first half lead was too large to overtake though, and saw them fly high with an 8-goal win.
Mardi Cunningham was a powerhouse in Waves’ defence the entire night, putting the pressure on Cook and Salanoa in goals as she forced turnovers and took impressive contested rebounds. In Waves’ goal end, Stacie Gardiner’s fancy footwork saw her position herself well for goal attempts. The succinct movement from Ingles, Sara Duncan and Madi Capsalis, hitting the circle edge with determination, was pivotal to Waves’ attack end.
Jaquie Newton and Sarah Szczykulsk did well in defence for Falcons, restricting Waves’ ability to enter the goal circle with ease. While Zoe Davies provided a wealth of support and back up for the attacks when switching the ball from defence to attack.
Taking it back to Casey stadium, Demons took a commanding lead in the first quarter that set them up in a dominant position for the entirety of the match. Leading by 6-goals at the first break, Casey nearly doubled Ariels scoring shots in the second quarter to extend their lead even more. Another high performance second half, Casey runaway with the win to result a 34-goal win against Ariels on the home grounds.
After having an unforgettable weekend, winning the premiership with Fury and receiving two MVP awards, Emma Ryde was pivotal in the ring, providing strong holds and presence. Her communication with Erin Bell assisted to the success of Casey’s end result, the two dynamically moving and speeding the ball to the goal third to score.
Despite persistent work from Ariels midcourt pressure, Shannon Blackman was too fast and her Casey team mates expected every pass and play without fault. Demi Woodlock was vital in Casey’s defence and transitioned the ball beautifully.
As it currently sits, Casey sit 5th on the ladder with equal points to 4th placed Wilson Storage Southern Saints who will play this Sunday against Geelong Cougars.
What an absolute thriller this game was with one goal separating the two for a large majority of match. With the scores separated by a single goal at the end of the third quarter, both teams brought the intensity across four quarters.
It was like a game of cat and mouse where one team would draw ahead and the other would be chasing right behind to catch up and turn the table. Match ups like Commane on Coffey and Broadley on Ridley sparked fierce competition down the court.
Tayla Shannon and Commane were fundamental for the Hawks, capitalising under the ring when they needed it the most, keeping them well and truly in the game. While Tayla Kearns didn’t stop running, providing assistance in midcourt as a key play maker. For Lightning, Maddy Carter and Gabby Coffey’s defensive pressure was electric and forced needed turnovers that kept scores so close throughout the match.
As Lightning shot 3 consecutive crowd triggering goals in the final minutes of the match, Hawks kept things tight to see the scores level with seconds fleeting. With mere moments before the siren, scores were levelled as Hawks tried frantically to shoot one last goal for victory but couldn’t quite get there. Two unwavering sides walked away with a draw, 52-all.
Christian College Geelong, Sunday 7th July at 2.20pm.
It was 1st taking on 2nd in this top table clash between North East Blaze and Boroondara Express. The match ups were thrilling, as expected, and as the two stepped on court it was clearly going to be a ruthless contest.
Despite a 4-goal margin at the end of the first quarter, the high level of netball looked as though it could be anyone’s game. With Abigail Gedge in goals and Nakita Singe down in defence, Blaze increased their lead as the match went on to secure a striking 17-goal victory.
Her second week back after returning from a calf and ACL surgery, Alex Moody looked right back at home in Centre, driving, dodging and passing with precision with other mid court talents Maddy Wallmeyer and Charlotte Davies. Maddy played another outstanding match, manoeuvring herself down the court, creating space and executing strategic passes into the goals.
Down the other end of the court, another midcourt pairing shined in the form of Sam Coppinger and Meg Williams, flying across the court with multiple drives on the edge of the circle, giving the goalers plenty of opportunities to assist. Blaze’s ability to capitalise the efforts of their defenders by transitioning and converting turnovers attributed to their final score and has been a standout quality of them in the season.
After both suffering losses in Round 14, Waves and Falcons both had something to prove as they stepped out on court. An evenly contested first quarter, Falcons stole an 8-goal lead at the end of the second quarter that only extended as the match continued, finishing with a decisive 16-goal win.
Falcons looked more confident in their attack end and had less trouble feeding the ball than Waves. Alahria Smith and Jess Barnes from Falcons demonstrated coordination in their positioning to create opportunities to pass into the goals. Amelia Haugen and Madelina Nyoul showed their power duo strength in Waves defence, however it wasn’t enough to get their team across the line.
Last time they met, it was a single goal that saw Ariels take the win against Casey in what was a back and fourth contest of game control.
Only 1 goal separating the two at the first break, Casey kept Ariels in their sights as they played hard for the win. Unfortunately for the Demons, Ariels switched gears in the second quarter which allowed them to attain a lead large enough to hold for the rest of the match.
Despite their loss, Casey outplayed Ariels in the third quarter to score 15-goals as opposed to Ariels 9-goals. This was a result of the defensive work of Matilda Elliot and Taya Rawson who pounced for rebounds.
Both teams had their fair share of opportunities and power plays, but Ariels were looking more dangerous in their transition which left Casey chasing them on court. Ariels rotations in the midcourt highlighted some impressive combinations and versatility in their players. Alana Nicol, playing a full game in centre, did so with determination and confidence, driving to hit the circle edge and putting defensive pressure over the ball instinctively in the event of a turnover.
A tight loss last week must have sparked something in Hawks Netball who, this week, soared to 2nd place with a triumphant win against Lightning.
With the scores even, 26-all, at the end of the first half, Lightning looked as though they could make a break in the second half. Shooting at 94% accuracy in the second quarter and following it up with 89% in the third quarter, Lightning still had Hawks in their sights. Being 2-goals down entering the fourth quarter, Lightning pushed their intensity. Hawks’ abilities were too strong though, their combinations down the court clearly practiced and distinctly executed.
Flying away with the win, Bronte Pearson was vital for Hawks in attack, providing dynamic movement onto the ring which allowed accurate feeds into the goalers. A quick switch heading in to the second half, Gabrielle Henderson matched Pearson’s skill to help bring home a win. Communicating much like last week, Daisy Hill and Elle Rice moved succinctly in goals to position themselves in range to shoot with confidence. Monique Lenehan-Moustafa also fit the ring well this week to assist the flow of Hawks transitions.
Christian College Geelong, Sunday 7th July at 3.40pm.
19 & Under
Boroondara started on a high with decisive decision making to take a slight lead in the first quarter of the match. Despite Emma Allman and Olivia Hamilton’s drive in Boroondara’s attack end and the quick feeding into goals, Blaze fought hard in the second quarter to steal back a lead and deny Express an opportunity to best them.
Taking an 8-goal lead at the end of half time, Blaze executed a brilliant final half that highlighted the communication and team solidarity that has attributed to their wins over the season.
Kaylah Loulanting and Cassidy Iedema showed dominance in Blaze’s goal circle during the third quarter, coordinating their movements to maximise their position to shoot. Mia Sudomirski and Rylee Nelson transitioned the ball strategically and placed themselves well on the circle edge to reoffer when needed. The goalers themselves rewarded the hard work of their team, shooting 19 goals in the final quarter to stretch their winning margin to 22-goals.
With an 8-week winning streak keeping them in 1st place, City West Falcons fought a roaring contest against 2nd placed Peninsula Waves, who have worked their way up the ladder all season. In this top table clash, nothing could separate the two as they came head to head and resulted in a draw.
Waves looked to be the team to beat from the beginning of the game, in front by a small margin for almost the entirety of the match. it was the defensive pressure from Falcons’ Amy Cook and Tiarah Minns that kept Waves accountable, as they refused to give up on the fight.
While Waves kept a consistent team structure, only making one change in the last quarter, Falcons demonstrated a variety of combinations in each third with numerous position changes and player swaps.
A third quarter breakaway saw the precise goaling of Jasmin Mackie and the heightened defence from Sussu Liai, Abuk Kenyang and Ashlee Barnett give Waves a 5-goal lead, the largest margin of the match. An intense final quarter for spectators saw Falcons determined not to give away the win as they switched gears and caught up to Waves, shooting 14 goals to Waves’ 9 goals to tie the match up.
Only one match win splits Falcons from Waves on the ladder for 1st place. If these two are to meet again in finals there is no doubt it will end in a fiery feud, and we can’t wait!
It looked like Casey may finally see their first win of the season this week as they took a quick lead against Ariels in the first quarter. Short lived however, Ariels took it back with force in the second quarter to lead the rest of the match and move another match win close to finals.
The midcourt magic between Clara Choi and Holly Taubert in Ariels midcourt was back again, manoeuvring the ball between each other down to their goalers. Georgia Whittle was determined to win the ball, leaping high for intercepts and linking well with Ellie Kennedy to transition the ball on turnovers.
Jade O’Shannessy, once again, played an instrumental role in Casey’s goal third to achieve a goal accuracy of 87%. Her teamwork with Chloe Gray shined on court with their passes and movement synchronised.
However, Ariels couldn’t be beat, their cohesion and consistency giving them a steady 9-goal victory.
After a disappointing defeat in Round 4 to Lightning, Hawks had a score to settle in Round 15. Entering with ferocity, Hawks played a consistent and decisive match that ensured the past was not repeated, taking out a striking win against Lightning by 30 goals.
A 17-goal lead at half time reflected Hawks’ clear cut driving down the court that resulted in turnovers for them to capitalise on. The defensive play between Olivia Spence and Gemma Thomas for Hawks proved successful in limiting the passes into Lightning’s goals and disrupting their plays.
Ellie Karaula had a tough contest against Lightning’s Lucy Bingle, but the teamwork between herself, Hannah Keanne and Lauren Jones allowed them to overcome Lightning.
This win takes Hawks a step close to finals as the currently sit 6th on the ladder.
Christian College Geelong, Sunday 7th July at 1pm.
There’re only three more chances to watch your teams battle it out for a chance at finals!
Round 16 will see matches be held at Casey Stadium, HE Parker Reserve and the State Netball and Hockey Centre from 7pm onwards on Wednesday 10th July. Make sure to wear some rainbow as well to support Melbourne University Lightning’s Pride Round as they play Cougars on court 2.
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