Loughborough Lightning recorded yet another record-breaking score line on Saturday night, after securing a 56-47 win over Severn Stars. Maintaining their six-point lead at the top of the table, Lightning celebrated their ninth victory in a row to remain the only unbeaten team in the Vitality Netball Superleague.
Travelling across the midlands to the University of Worcester, Lightning prepared to face their first fixture of the Easter weekend. With a tough weekend ahead of them, Lightning’s aim was to secure a comfortable win before refocusing on Monday’s fixture against Team Bath – however the opposition had other ideas.
Right from the first whistle Stars, who currently sit in eighth place, shook the Lightning squad with an explosive start, adding a four-point lead within a matter of minutes. Stars continued to apply pressure throughout the quarter, but with just two minutes on the clock; Lightning began to find their rhythm, managing to close the gap to just two points.
Q1: 12 – 14
Stepping onto court for the second quarter, Lightning knew they had a battle on their hands. Having led the way for the majority of their previous fixtures, Lightning needed a momentous effort from the entire team to turn the game around. Although Stars continued to steam ahead, Lightning’s tenacity began to cause unwanted errors with their focus remaining solely on gaining those all important goals. A difficult second quarter ended in a four-point deficit.
Q2: 24 – 28
Thirty minutes remained on the clock and with a roaring home crowd; the match was still all to play for. The half-time break had given Lightning the chance to reflect, reposition and readjust to the game at hand. Having no doubt reiterated the game plan, Head Coach Karen Atkinson took to her seat with a fierce determination, eager to witness a crucial turnaround. Finally treating the crowd to their famous explosive play, Lightning returned the pressure they had succumbed to in the first half to finally take the lead 31-35. Finding it difficult to penetrate the defensive barrier, Stars finished up the quarter trailing by five.
Q3: 40 – 35
With the end in sight, Lightning had just fifteen minutes left to secure the win. With Stars eager to become ‘the team that toppled the top’, Atkinson’s girls in purple needed to execute the perfect combination of skill, power and determination in order to bring home the victory. Shooting powerhouse Peace Proscovia teamed with recent arrival Ella Clark, sank the ball through the hoop time after time, aided by seamless interceptions from mid-court England trio Panagarry, Cobden and Joseph. Although this was only Clark’s second outing for Lightning, her lack of experience with the squad seemed non-existent. Lightning ended the nail-biting face-off with a sigh of relief and their ninth victory on the trot.
Final score: 56 – 47
Head Coach Karen Atkinson was quick to discuss the difficulty of a dual fixture weekend: “I’m really pleased to come away with the three points tonight. Stars got out of the blocks much quicker than we did and asked us questions all over the court. I was pleased at how the girls dug deep to pull back a nine-goal deficit at one stage. It was great to see players come off the bench, make an impact and provide a different challenge to the opposition. The priority now is for the girls to recover well ready for Mondays clash against Bath.”
Lightning’s next home fixture takes place later today at Loughborough University.
They welcome Team Bath to Sir David Wallace Arena for a double header with the U21 sides.
Tickets are available online until 12pm with limited availability on the door. Buy yours now to catch your favourite netball stars in action: http://loughboroughsport.com/loughborough-lightning/fixturesandresults/