Loughborough Lightning consolidated their position at the top of the Vitality Netball Superleague following an impressive 66-57 away win over Hertfordshire Mavericks.
After a one minute silence in memory of the victims of the London terrorist attack, the players gathered together and composed themselves for what was set to be a thrilling game.
Expectations were high as Lightning stepped onto the court with five consecutive wins in the bag. They claimed the first centre pass of the night however a rather sluggish start saw Mavs take an early 6-point lead after just 15 minutes of play.
It wasn’t until the second quarter that Lightning began to find their form and apply pressure to Mavs who were still very much in control of the game. Captain Nat Panagarry showed some excellent resilience and grit to hold the field together however it was the magnificent display of shooting by Peace Proscovia that saw Lightning close the gap.
This quarter saw a run of goals for one team and then a run of goals for the other however Mavs did just enough to hold the advantage ahead of half time.
The score at half time proved to be the wake-up call that Lightning needed and they stepped back on court with a new lease of life. Confident and determined to maintain their unbeaten streak in the Vitality Netball Superleague, Lightning bounced back to take three goals in quick succession.
Debutant Rebekah Airey started to apply more and more pressure on the Mavs defending circle, and her interceptions stopped them from opening up a significant lead. The score line remained very even throughout the third quarter however Lightning inched their way back into the game. Creative passing and movement from Natalie Panagarry and Peace Proscovia certainly gave the crowd something to cheer about.
The gap began to widen after the first five minutes and Lightning stepped up their intensity and pressure forcing mistakes to creep into Mavs play. With the support of a home crowd, Mavs fought to the very end however cracks were beginning the show in their defence and they had difficulty in feeding their accomplished shooters.
With a larger safety barrier on the scoreboard, Lightning looked composed and continued to extend their lead. The finely tuned passes between Vanessa Walker and Peace Prosociva meant that there were goals after goals, right up to the final whistle.
A rather relieved Head Coach Karen Atkinson gave an honest reflection on the game;
“I’m pleased with the win but not as pleased with the performance as I have been in previous weeks. We started really slowly. Full credit to Mavericks as they had a great game plan. Their defensive unit put us under a lot of pressure and really made us think.
“I’m pleased with the girls’ mental resilience to come back and win it. In the pre-season we flew under the radar a little bit but now we are one of the teams to beat because we’re sitting at the top of the table”.
Captain Natalie Pangarry was also pleased to see her team get another win under their belt, making it six out of six for the Loughborough side:
“I’m so proud of the girls for the resilience that they have shown. We managed to turn things around after a poor start. Next time we need to get out there and attack in the first five minutes. We need to get ourselves off to a stronger start”.
Loughborough Lightning will be back on the road in round seven when they take on Celtic Dragons on Monday 3rd April. They return home on Easter Monday where they face Team Bath at 4pm.
Tickets are on sale now so why not treat the family to a spectacular showcase of netball this Easter? Tickets can be bought online at: www.loughboroughlightning.com.