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Recovery Key in Double-Header, Says Stars’ Coach

Severn Stars’ Head Coach, Sam Bird, says recovery will be key as to who comes out on top as they go into a double-header, in which they will play the same team twice in four days.

She said that the fixtures, which sees Stars play Surrey Storm at the University of Worcester Arena tomorrow (Friday May 25) and then away at Surrey Sports Park on the Bank Holiday Monday (May 28), present a great opportunity to not only secure six points but also a position in the top end of the Vitality Netball Superleague table.

Stars had been set to host Storm back in early March, but the snowy conditions put paid to that. After a frustrating two-month wait, Severn Stars’ Head Coach Sam Bird says her team are up for the challenge.

“We want to play Storm,” said Bird. “We were frustrated we couldn’t play them when it snowed. The players are really looking forward to getting two big games down against Storm and we’re really up for it. Two matches against the same team in three days is unusual though for the teams and coaches.

“Recovery will be key for the second match away in Surrey. The travel always adds extra logistical challenges but our away performances have improved significantly over recent weeks and Monday should be no exception to that improvement. It’s a challenge preparing for a match against the same team in short succession as we have less time to review and examine the first performance. But I will be working overtime to push on for a second and stronger performance from our squad.”

Stars, a joint franchise between the University of Worcester and University of Gloucestershire, come off the back of an agonising 55-49 defeat to Manchester Thunder. Despite bringing the score back to within just three goals in a nail-biting finale, Thunder managed to hold on. But Bird, who said she was pleased with her side’s performance, is looking for a result this weekend. She revealed the team had had an extra training session this week in order to develop some of the key strategies they would need to deploy against Storm and to develop their own strengths and game plan.

“The weekend presents the chance for six points on the board and to secure us in the top half of the table,” she said. “Storm are a good team with a good history of success in the competition, but we have been performing strongly and we are looking to push on with that level of high performance this weekend.”

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!

Photo credit: Razorlight Imagery

Laura Malcolm, Severn Stars

Severn Stars’ Malcolm: “A really good vibe”

Severn Stars captain Laura Malcolm is hoping the club can build on their solid debut season when the 2018 Vitality Netball Superleague returns.

The team, a joint franchise between the University of Worcester and the University of Gloucestershire, won five matches in 2017 and finished the campaign in eighth.

Stars have high aspirations and believe the appointment of Sam Bird as well as keeping their core unit together and strengthening with several additions, including Maryka Holtzhausen, Phumza Maweni and Samantha Cook, will help them reap the rewards.

She said: “Last season was our first season together and we really did have a mixture of different players from different teams.

“Having a core group that stayed this year will really help us build on that consistency and hopefully build on our structures for the future.

“There are a few new additions to the team but it’s gelled really nicely and there’s a really good vibe in this group so that’s always a win when you really enjoy spending time with each other.”

After building from scratch and finding their feet last season, Stars are aiming to push themselves even further and establish themselves as real contenders.

The aim for every team is to reach the Final Four but Malcolm admits that it’ll be a challenge, they need to take everything one step at a time and that she, as captain, needs to make sure she’s leading by example.

She said: “For the team it’s having that consistency and really pushing ourselves to better the performance from last year.

“We’re obviously looking to compete with any team that we come across and everybody wants to end up in that top four.

“It’s a bit of a mix-up for the top four, everyone is competing for a spot so we’ll have to wait and see!

“You’ve got to set yourself baby steps and focus game on game.

“A successful season for Laura Malcolm personally would to be fit and competing week in, week out and making sure that I’m leading the team from the front with performances.”

With the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games taking place from the 5th-15th April, the Superleague will take a break after Round 7 concludes on the 18th March.

It remains to be seen what impact this will have – whether it’ll be welcome respite for teams to reflect and regroup or whether it’ll provide a hindrance to those teams rising up the table.

However, Malcolm believes having the major international competition on the horizon is benefiting the Superleague sides.

She said: “The real benefit (of CWG break) is that any internationals are really pushing for something massive this year so they are training for that and motivation is higher than ever.

“That’s really great for us training around them and also great for them. I think the level of the league in general this year will be higher than ever.”

 

Taking things one step at a time, Stars have been concentrating in pre-season on making sure their combinations are fine-tuned and game plans are ready before looking at their rivals.

Malcolm said: “To be honest, we haven’t really looked that much at the competition, it’s all about focusing on ourselves at the minute.

“Our first game is against Manchester Thunder, so at the moment that’s our biggest competition, that’s the first team we focus on.”

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