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Loughborough Lightning's Jade Clarke in action.

Lightning weather the Storm

This weekend’s Round 5 action saw some excitingly close encounters in the Vitality Netball Superleague, and none more so than the clash between Lougborough Lightning and Surrey Storm!

The tense encounter finished with Lightning winning 55-54 in what will almost certainly go down as one of the best games of the season.

For Lightning’s full match report read below:

Loughborough Lightning managed to hold off a challenging Surrey Storm side in an excruciatingly close match, with the final score resting at 55-54 to the home team.

The Lightning side fought hard until the end, with Storm providing a challenge at every step of the way.

Lightning took to the Sir David Wallace Arena in Loughborough University for their mid-table challenge against Surrey Storm. Their last game was a tough battle against Manchester Thunder at home where they were unable to beat the current league leaders.

This week was set to be captain Jade Clarke’s last home game for Loughborough in front of a sold-out crowd.

Lightning entered the court for the first quarter to a huge uproar from home support and were keen to make an impression on the visiting side. Storm took possession off the bat and put away the first goal of the match. Peace Proscovia was quick to reply and put away Lightning’s first goal and proved to make light work of Storm’s goal keeper.

Lightning’s Jo Trip made a fantastic interception after a threatening charge down the court by Storm and Lightning were able to put away more goals as a result. Between Trip and Ama Agbeze at defence, Storm were unable to make much of their possession and the lead by Lightning grew.

At centre, captain Jade Clarke made fantastic interlinking play as the defensive players earned the ball, with Hannah Joseph and Lauren Nicholls maintaining the pace of the ball up the court. Despite Lightning’s strong start, it was not long before Storm closed the gap and soon there was only a one-point lead by the home side.

Nicholls was a standout player in the first quarter, mounting pressure on her opposite player and creating problems for the Storm offensive plays. Five minutes to go until half time and the scoreline stood at Lightning 9 – 8 Storm. Storm had soon warmed up and their offensive pressure on Lightning grew as the first quarter came to a close.

Lightning led into the beginning of the second quarter at 14 – 13, with both sides looking to pin the other down. Proscovia was resolute in her confidence at goal shooter, with Loughborough University Student Vanessa Walker providing key support play as well as putting a goal away herself.

Fantastic interplay between Clarke and Walker ensured Lightning headed comfortably into a four-point lead over Storm in the first five minutes of the second quarter which lasted for the majority of the quarter.

Keen defensive work from the Lightning girls prevented Storm capitalising with possession, and interlinking play from the centre court girls ensured Lightning had ample opportunities for goals.

HT: LOUGHBOROUGH LIGHTNING 30 – 27 SURREY STORM

Lightning began the third quarter on the offensive and Proscovia put away the first goal of the half, with Storm responding straight away with their own goal. Hannah Joseph’s performance stepped up after the halftime break, providing fast-paced interlink plays for Walker and Proscovia.

Nicholls also stepped up the to try and contain the seemingly rejuvenated Storm offensive. Storm were able to close the gap on Lightning and soon the home team were back to a one-point lead over the visiting side.

Previous Player of the Match Jo Trip was put under huge pressure from the Storm goal shooter but managed to intercept the ball once again in the seventh minute of the third quarter. Kadeen Corbin made her return to the court, providing Lightning’s offensive plays with aggression.

Storm upped the physicality in the last five minutes of the third quarter, with both sides seemingly losing composure. Captain Clarke maintained her team’s discipline and soon the focus was back on to improving Lightning’s lead.

Once again, the home team had an advantage with a four-point lead. In the last two minutes of the quarter, Storm chipped away at Lightning and managed to close the gap by a few goals.

Storm began the fourth quarter with a huge charge on Lightning’s defensive side. Natalie Panagarry was put in for Hannah Joseph at wing attack and brought energy to the side. Within the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, Storm managed to take the lead at 42 – 43, but was quickly put to an end by Lightning’s Proscovia after fantastic work by Clarke and Corbin.

With ten minutes to go, the scoreline was evened out at 46-46. The Loughborough crowd grew louder with every goal put away by Proscovia. Storm’s goal shooter was given a warning after a fantastic interception by Agbeze, which only heightened the agitated home crowd’s excitement.

Corbin’s return to Lightning proved an invaluable asset as she had some fantastic play in the last five minutes of the half. The last few minutes of the game were nail biting for the home crowd as the roar of noise grew, with the scoreline wavering on one point between them. A superb interception by Agbeze stole the possession back from Storm and ensured Lightning’s victory.

FT: LOUGHBOROUGH LIGHTNING 55 – 54 SURREY STORM

Player of the Match, Ama Agbeze, had this to say about the match:

“I think we were up by five and then suddenly I looked at the score board and we were very close and I was like “how did this happen? How do we get back into the game?”. I’m pleased that we’ve won, but we need to learn how to (if we’re up by five) take a comfortable lead and keep on pushing on. So, stressful but pleased!”

Head coach Karen Atkinson also commented:

“Oh my goodness, we like to make it difficult for ourselves! Although, Surrey Storm are such a quality outfit. They’ve got experience all through the court. It was a bit frustrating that we would go ahead by five goals and not be able to push on, but I suppose that shows the quality of their side and that they weren’t going to give in. Massively proud that we managed to grind that out right at the end.”

On Monday, the Lightning team face Team Northumbria, away. Our next home match is against Yorkshire Jets on Saturday 12th of March. Tickets are available here: http://loughboroughsport.com/loughborough-lightning/fixturesandresults/

Starting Seven:
GK – Jo Trip
GD – Ama Agbeze
WD – Lauren Nicholls
C – Jade Clarke ©
WA – Hannah Joseph
GA – Vanessa Walker
GS – Peace Proscovia

Substitutes:
Kadeen Corbin
Harriet Gill
Lauren Massey
Natalie Panagarry