England's Sara Bayman

Loughborough Lightning appoint Bayman as new Director of Netball

Loughborough Lightning Netball are delighted to unveil Sara Bayman as their new Director of Netball ahead of the 2019 Vitality Netball Superleague season.

Bayman is a former England International and brings with her a wealth of top level playing experience. Boasting 84 caps with the England Roses, having competed in two World Cups and two Commonwealth Games, Sara hopes to apply her knowledge to the programme here at Loughborough University.

Lightning have missed out on the top prize in both the 2017 and 2018 Superleague, making it to the Grand Final on both occasions and narrowly missing out on the win. Having won the Superleague four times as a player with Team Bath and Manchester Thunder, Bayman will look to draw on her experience to guide Lightning to the top for the first time in 2019.

Moving to Loughborough in September from fellow Superleague side Sirens, where Bayman spent her 2018 season playing, Sara will spearhead a strong staff team including Pathway Head Coach Emily Perry who is currently developing the Lightning Netball Academy. Also applying her trade to the BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) programme, Bayman will undertake the responsibility of guiding the University teams to the Championships where the student side claimed Gold in 2017.

Sara has been involved with age group level competition since a young age, having previously captained the England U21 side and therefore hopes to work closely with Perry to enhance the development and progression of the youth members within the Lightning and University programmes.

Of her new role Bayman said: “I’m really excited to join such an ambitious programme and work with some of the top athletes in the UK.

“Loughborough Lightning have shown a commitment to developing players and creating a strong team culture.

“I will look to build on this through my experiences at the top level and can’t wait to take Loughborough into the 2019 season.”

Of this key appointment Franchise Director Olivia Murphy commented: “I am extremely pleased to welcome Sara to Loughborough Lightning.

“Sara is a fantastic character and I have no doubt she will be a brilliant Director of Netball for us.

“I have worked with Sara previously and have seen that she is a great leader and role model.

“She has always shown great desire to improve herself and those around her and she has the platform at Loughborough to continue to strive to do this.

“I am very excited for the next chapter for Lightning under Sara’s leadership.”

Bayman will replace outgoing Head Coach Anna Carter in September, who leaves the franchise having guided the team to a second Grand Final in as many years.

Bayman’s first outing with the Lightning squad will be at the 2018 Fast 5 All Stars Competition in October, where the girls will be looking to defend their title.


Wasps beat Lightning to secure back-to-back titles!

Wasps Netball beat Loughborough Lightning 55-51 at the Copper Box Arena on Saturday evening to secure back-to-back titles.

In a repeat of last season’s Grand Final, there was a case of déjà vu with the same scoreline and the same outcome.

Tamsin Greenway’s side were made to work incredibly hard to be crowned champions as they faced an in-form and determined Lightning team on a 12-game unbeaten run.

It was last season’s runners-up who flew out the traps with Peace Proscovia scoring twice before Rachel Dunn got the defending champions off the mark.

Shamera Sterling displayed her athleticism and defensive prowess early on flying in for an intercept but her side were unable to capitalise.

A contact call against Sam May allowed Ella Clark to put Lightning 5-3 up but Natalie Haythornthwaite scored her first of the game to pull Wasps back within one.

Anna Carter’s side extended their lead to three goals after contact was called against Haythornthwaite and Proscovia made no mistake from close in.

Dunn, playing in her 10th Vitality Netball Superleague Grand Final, got into her groove and cut her side’s deficit to just one with two quick-fire goals.

And there was nothing to separate the two sides at the end of the first quarter with the scores tied at 12-all.

It went goal-for-goal in the opening stages of the second quarter with the crowd treated to dogged defending, fantastic feeds and sharp shooting.

Anything Clark and Proscovia could do, Dunn and Haythornthwaite would match at the other end.

Sophia Candappa was working her magic in the mid-court for Wasps, picking out the shooters under the post time and time again.

A rare missed effort from Dunn though was pounced upon by Lightning, who slickly transitioned the ball through court with the move finished off by Uganda international Proscovia to give her side a 21-19 lead.

Wasps fought back instantly and took the game by the scruff of the neck, exuding class and tenacity as they drew back on level terms before stretching ahead to 26-22.

Lightning were unfazed with Clark and then Proscovia, after a trademark Sterling intercept, bringing it back to a two-goal game.

Momentum was with Wasps at the end of the first half and they took a slender lead – 28-24 – into the break.

With a steely grit and their eyes firmly fixed on the Vitality Netball Superleague trophy, the defending champions made their mark at the start of the second half.

Leading by example, Wasps captain Hannah Knights read the game perfectly to thwart a Lightning attack and the turnover was converted, before Dunn nailed another shot to hand her team a six-goal advantage.

It was a fiery and physical affair out on court with mid-air collisions and contact calls galore!

Slick link-up play between Hannah Joseph, Clark and Proscovia saw Lightning claw back the deficit to just four goals and they continued to chase down their opponents with Clark holding her nerve to cut the gap further.

With just three goals separating the two teams at the end of the third quarter (43-40 to Wasps), it was anyone’s game heading into the final 15 minutes.

Lightning kept Wasps at bay initially as they battled back to trail by just one and then got on level terms at 44-all.

After going goal-for-goal for a period of play, May picked off a lofted feed into Proscovia and Wasps seized the opportunity to stretch ahead to 48-46 before extending their advantage to four after held ball was called against Lightning.

Carter’s side were still in the hunt though with two unanswered goals from Proscovia bring them back to within two at 51-49.

The Wasps defence remained resolute with top work from May and Knights helping the table toppers see out the game.

A huge thank you to all of our fantastic players, coaches, officials, volunteers, fans and partners for another sensational season!






Wasps Netball looking for back-to-back titles in Lightning Grand Final clash

Wasps Netball star Rachel Dunn says her team’s defence will provide the foundations to defend their league title this weekend.
It will be a re-match of the 2017 Grand Final but unlike last season the black-and-golds come into the clash as the higher seeded team – as Wasps seek back-to-back championships.
Dunn, who starred in the semi-final win against Team Bath, will be playing in her 10th final and is targeting her fourth successive league title.
The veteran attacker, who has enjoyed an 89 per cent shooting percentage this season, believes her team are in the perfect position to defend their title.
“I love the week in the lead up to the Grand Final. It is always a special time and it has been great spending it with this fantastic group,” said Dunn.
“We’ve beaten every team so far this season so we know we can beat anyone. We have put ourselves in the best possible position to defend our title and we are determined to do just that.
“These are the games you play for. We put in all the hard work to finish top of the league and then win our semi-final but we know that anything can happen in the final – as we proved last year.
“We’ve got huge confidence throughout the team and we know our defence will show up when it matters.
“As an attacker, when you know your defensive end is so effective at getting the ball back it gives you great confidence to do your job in attack.”
Lightning came away winners when the teams met at the Ricoh Arena in May but Wasps took victory earlier in the season at Loughborough – leaving the season series level.
Wasps Netball director Tamsin Greenway led her team to 16 wins in the regular season to top the table and finish one place above Lightning.
Greenway – who will be looking to secure her fourth consecutive league title as a coach – is looking forward to the battle between the league’s top two.
“You want to be in this position and be given a chance to defend your title,” she said.
“We have a lot of experience in this squad who know what it takes to win finals, you just have to give it your all.

“It will be good to face Loughborough again, it will be a rematch of last year’s final and we know it will be a real battle.”


Thunder’s Greig: “We know we can beat them”

It’s been a long season, but now just four teams – and three games remain before the 2018 Vitality Netball Superleague champions are crowned.

Third-placed Manchester Thunder face Loughbroough Lightning, who finished second in the regular season, in their play-off game, while Wasps and Team Bath face-off in the other semi.

The winner of each will meet in the Grand Final on 7 July at the Copper Box Arena. And Thunder are desperate to be there.

On paper, very little separates the Black and Yellows and Lightning, who have one win apiece against each other this season, while the hosts secured the fixture at home due to their superior goal difference.

But mentality and approach shifts for the semi-finals, while Thunder head coach Karen Greig is aware that what has gone before her side this season, will not be the focus when they line-up at the Leicester Arena on Saturday.

“Once you get to the semis you have to focus on what’s in front and not what’s gone,” she said.

“The positive we take from the season is we know we can beat them.

“We approach this now in the same way as previous – watch them, break them down, have a game plan and ensure we implement our strengths within that.”

Thunder have been one of the most consistent sides this season building momentum with each game, only losing three times, and scoring over 1,000 (1056) goals along the way.

But so have Lightning, who have a similar record to Thunder, three losses, scoring two less (1054) but also conceding less (852 to Thunder’s 887) .

And as a result Greig is expecting an even match-up, and an organised and strong centre court from Anna Carter’s squad.

Greig said: “We have all seen that they are formidable at both ends of the court and have a strong centre court connecting them.

“I think there will be great match ups all over the court, but as we know when Joyce Mvula is on her game she is unstoppable.”

But whatever strengths Lighting may possess, Greig believes Thunder have the edge when it comes to togetherness and team spirit. Thunder thrive on being the underdog.

They always play right to the buzzer, with heart, grit and passion.

“I think the fact that we have been sitting under the radar from day one stands us in good stead,” she added.

“No one really has us down to be challengers, but I’ve got a solid squad with no real superstars (in others’ eyes) that play hard for each other and the franchise every game.

“Every northerner loves the under dog and we will go out and play like we’ve nothing to lose.”

Tickets for our semi-final against Lightning in Leicester are now on general sale.

The race to reach the Vitality Netball Superleague Grand Final is heating up – don’t miss out on the season-ending spectacular and get your tickets now!