Loughborough Lightning secured yet another victory this bank holiday weekend after a thrilling 68 – 51 win over Team Northumbria.
Having previously met in round eight of the 2017 season, at Northumbria University, Lightning returned home elated after securing their eighth win in a row.
Beginning this week’s game as the only team to have confirmed their place in the Final Four, Lightning were keen to use the whole 60 minutes to work on any problem areas before the finals, which take place in just two weeks’ time.
Taking to court wearing black armbands in memory of those who lost their lives in Manchester earlier this week, a minutes silence was held ahead of the first centre pass.
Getting off to a flying start, Lightning fired on all cylinders to quickly take a three point lead over visitors Team Northumbria. With precision passing into the circle and smooth shooting from Proscovia, Lightning were able to push on in the first 15 minutes despite an increased physicality from the opposition.
Quarter 1: 15 – 9
With a confident head start, Lightning’s defence increased the pressure, eager to force errors in Northumbria’s attack.
Loughborough University Student Ella Gibbons used her lightning reactions and long limbs to continuously tip the ball away from the shooters hands. A fantastic team of support around the circle edge also ensured each and every ball was landed firmly under the post for Proscovia to work her magic and tot up an even wider lead.
Quarter 2: 31 – 21
Going into the second half unchanged, Lightning remained composed, keen to increase their lead and show the opposition what they’re made of. Cobden, Panagarry and Joseph continued to work the ball down the court where, aided by Clark’s seamless drops into the circle, Proscovia was able to turn the ball into points.
Flying over the line at each centre pass, Josephs agile presence on court was key to Lightning’s success executing almost perfect passes into the D. Lightning left the court with just 15 minutes left to play and a massive 18 point lead.
Quarter 3: 53 – 35
A three quarter time shake up in the shooting circle saw Walker step on court in Goal Attack and Clark take a well-earned rest. Fiercely determined to bring the score back, Northumbria rapidly increased their physical presence on court with numerous calls from the umpire for contact and obstruction.
However after just a few minutes Walker and Proscovia soon found their rhythm again and began to sink the ball through the net. Fighting tooth and nail right to the bitter end, Lightning’s defensive duo upped their work rate to ensure the ball was kept in control before the final whistle confirmed yet another win for the home side.
Final Score: 68 – 51
Head Coach Karen Atkinson was keen to express her excitement in securing another home victory;
“The score line tonight was good,Team Northumbria really came out and put up a fantastic fight. We need to have more attention to detail in preparation for the finals in two weeks’ time. This is a fantastic group of players, each week they’re asking to learn and asking for help in specific areas.
“Next week we face Surrey Storm who could be our semi-final opposition so we’ll have to play them twice in a week. We really need to ensure we just up our game, turn over more balls and retain possession throughout the game.”
After a stellar performance, centre court star Hannah Joseph picked up the MVP award of the night;
“I think it was a good game tonight, to put 68 points on the board is good against any team, I think there’s still a few things to work on for next week but overall a good score. I think we’re really looking forward to final four, focusing on each game as they come and right now our focus is on next week against surrey storm.
“They may have a different squad to when we last met so it will be good to play them again so close to the final and get a good feel of what we need to work on and where our weaknesses are.”
Lightning have just one game remaining in the 2017 Vitality Netball Superleague before they head to Final Four to compete for the coveted title.
Catch them in action on Saturday 3rd June when they welcome Surrey Storm to Loughborough University. Tickets are selling fast so secure yours now: http://loughboroughsport.com/loughborough-lightning/fixturesandresults/