Loughborough Lightning secured yet another victory on Monday night. after an impressive display of netball, beating Hertfordshire Mavericks 72 – 51.
Returning home for the first of their final four games, Lighting hoped to maintain a clean undefeated record in their home venue at Loughborough University.
Having confidently secured their place in the semi-finals last week, the girls returned to the safety of their home court, eager to give their fans a taste of this year’s success.
The starting line-up this week saw Ella Gibbons make her first start of the season in the coveted goal keeper bib, whilst Jo Trip stepped up to the centre court as goal defence after Oyesola was ruled out through injury.
Down at the attacking end, newcomer Ella Clark took to the court as goal attack, facing her old teammates for the first time this season.
A considerably taller defence saw Lightning jump the gun from the very first whistle. Bounding out of the blocks, Trip and Gibbons worked tirelessly to apply pressure to Mavericks shooting circle, causing numerous turnovers and rebounds.
Meanwhile Clark and Proscovia soon found their feet and began to tally up crucial points on the board, finishing the opening quarter with a comfortable lead of eight.
Quarter 1: 18 – 10
In fine form, Lightning continued to play with ease, elegance and confidence, seamlessly delivering the ball through the all-star centre court trio into the waiting hands of Peace Proscovia.
Facing a tough opposition in England’s Summer Artman, Proscovia seemed far from rattled by the keeper’s experience, using support from Clark to sink the ball cleanly through the net.
Quarter 2: 35 – 23
Back from injury and fighting fit, Lightning’s familiar face, Hannah Joseph, treated the crowds to an incredibly strong performance on court, creating a perfect link from Panagarry and Cobden through to the shooting circle.
With a consistently high work rate, huge credit went to the centre court trio, who’s failure to give up saw them fight tooth and nail for each and every single ball, displaying a true reflection of just how hard Lightning have worked to get to where they are this season.
Quarter 3: 52 – 36
With just fifteen minutes standing between Lightning and their fourteenth win of the season, the 800 strong crowd were on their feet as the players returned to court.
Changes to the attacking circle saw Walker replace Clark for the final push of the night. Not ready to give up, Mavericks increased the tempo and continued to hassle the hosts.
However showing sheer class and determination, Lightning too were able to use all that they had left to push on and create a gap so large in the score line, that there was no chance of a comeback.
Clocking up a whopping twenty point deficit, Lightning not only secured their biggest win of the season so far but also confirmed why they are definitely the team to beat.
Final Score: 72 – 51
Reflecting on the season so far, Head Coach Karen Atkinson commented on the team’s key to success:
“I’m super proud of the squad for making the final four with four games to go. I am so proud of the entire group, not just the 12 in our squad but the training partners and those players that were injured in preseason and how much they’ve all supported each other.
“Our success has been a huge effort from everyone and each player has played a massive part in getting to where we are today.”
Looking ahead to the next few weeks;
“We want to finish at the top of the league; we’re already preparing ourselves for a tough semi-final. I’m now looking at where all the players are at, seeing who is starting well and where others can come on and make an impact.
“We’re also working on the different combinations we have whilst still putting on a good performance each week, which I think the girls did very well tonight.”
Claiming the coveted MVP title, Ella Clark was keen to share her pleasure in the night’s win:
“To have the team playing so well together for a full 60 minutes tonight was really great. The crowd were fantastic, we could hear them throughout the whole game and it really spurred us on for the entire match so thank you to all that came out to support us!”
Lightning fans can enjoy another showcase of sporting action next weekend on Saturday 20th May when Lightning welcome Celtic Dragons to Loughborough University.
Don’t miss out on the chance to see England’s no.1 Superleague team in action, tickets to all remaining matches are now on sale and selling fast!