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Mikki Austin appointed Director of Netball at Surrey Storm

Vitality Netball Superleague team Surrey Storm today announced the appointment of Mikki Austin as its new Director of Netball.

Mikki, 24, joined Surrey Storm in 2015 and was part of the back-to-back title winning Superleague squad in 2015 and 2016.

Disappointingly for her, much of the 2018 season was spent on the sidelines due to injury, making her return at the tail end of the 2018 season.

A firm fans’ favourite and three-time winner of the fans’ player of the season accolade, Mikki’s determination and professionalism on court make her a perfect role model for Storms’ loyal fan base who continue to pack out their home arena at Surrey Sports Park, throughout the competitive season.

Whilst this is Mikki’s inaugural Director of Netball position, she has vast coaching experience, running one of the Storm academy hubs last season and in her most recent role as Netball Coach at Putney High School.

This morning Mikki Austin commented: ‘I am thrilled to be appointed as Director of Netball at Surrey Storm and, whilst the new season seems like a long way off at the moment, I cannot wait to get started on our preparations to make it a successful one.

‘I am focusing on making sure we can attract some new players to add strength and bolster our already strong squad, so we are ready to compete at the highest level as we aim to compete for a top four spot.

‘I have enjoyed every moment of my time with Storm so far, especially as we have enjoyed some great successes which I really want to be part of again; I have big aspirations for what we can achieve and I look forward to building an exciting next generation of Surrey Storm.’

Gavin Baker, Director of Sport said: ‘Since arriving here in 2015, Mikki has been a stalwart of the Storm squad, bringing not only talent, but a real passion and desire to succeed on behalf of the team.

‘Her love of the game is clear for everyone to see with Storms’ tag line of #BleedBlue being a natural personification.

‘Her appointment will help raise Storm’s profile to a wider audience, not just in Surrey, but nationally. I firmly believe she will be an asset to us both on and off the court.’

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Surrey Storm return to winning ways

Surrey Storm returned to winning ways with an impressive victory at home over UWS Sirens.

Storm headed into the game determined to recover from their double-header loss against Severn Stars last week.

From the offset the team looked in control of the match, neat passing play being the key to building a 17-10 lead by the end of the opening quarter.

The second quarter was hotly contested, and not just due to the heat of the arena.

Both sides worked tirelessly in attack and defence, Storm extending their lead to nine and finishing the half 30-21 to the good.

Sirens came out flying in the second half, however defensive partnership of Jo Trip and Lorraine Kowalewska quickly quelled the visitors.

Katie Harris and Sigi Burger were able to cement a 13 goal lead as Storm headed into the final quarter 45-32 up.

Tension grew at Surrey Sports Park as Sirens swiftly closed the gap, cutting Storm’s lead to just seven with several minutes remaining.

Thankfully Georgia Lees and Jade Forbes-Wattley regained control of the game, calming the team down with smart possession play.

As the final buzzer sounded the crowd erupted in deafening cheers, Storm emerging 51-44 winners on the night.

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!

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Coach hails ‘ruthless’ Stars after dominant win over Storm

Severn Stars’ Head Coach, Sam Bird, described her side as “ruthless” as they brushed aside Surrey Storm in a commanding 55-43 victory.

Stars held the lead throughout the game as they blew away their opponents, opening up a huge 24-goal advantage midway through a stunning third quarter in one of their finest performances of this year’s Vitality Netball Superleague campaign.

Now they must look to recover quickly in time to play the second leg of their Bank Holiday weekend double-header, as they face the same side again at Surrey Sports Park on Monday (May 28, 7pm).

“We were dominant throughout,” said Bird.

“I’m pleased with how ruthless the players were. I want them to push on and I don’t want them to feel embarrassed about winning by big margins and that’s really good to see.

“We won the third quarter 21-7, which is very rare and unusual, and probably one of the biggest quarters we’ve ever won in the history of the club. It’s just fantastic.”

Bird heaped praise on her side’s defensive performance.  “Storm just couldn’t get through our defence,” she said.  “Becky Oatley did really well and was really disciplined at wing defence and stuck to task, and the two in the circle, Sam Cooke and Phumza Maweni, were just amazing.”

Stars came out flying in the opening quarter at the University of Worcester Arena and fired their way to an early 7-3 lead, moving the ball quickly as wing attack Iona Darroch and centre Laura Malcolm caused Surrey problems with their incisive passing.

Stars’ success going forward was matched by fierce play from their defensive trio, who thwarted several attacks as the hosts stifled Surrey’s forward players for much of the quarter.

The visitors grew into the game and had brought the score back to within just two goals with five minutes of the quarter remaining, before Stars reacted to ensure they ended the first quarter with a 14-9 lead.

Stars carried their momentum into the second quarter, extending their lead to seven points after goal shooter Eleanor Cardwell turned provider, with her defence-splitting pass allowing unmarked goal attack Maryka Holtzhausen to net.

Storm threatened to hit back midway through the second quarter, hitting four goals without reply as they cut the home side’s lead to just six.

But Stars regained control and, helped by the creativity of Darroch and Holtzhausen and the composed finishing of Cardwell, went into the half-time break with a commanding 29-21 lead.

The hosts ramped up the pressure in a scintillating third quarter performance, building a decisive 14-point lead in the early stages.

Goalkeeper Phumza Maweni, goal defence Sam Cook and wing defence Becky Oatley performed superbly defensively to help keep the visitors at bay, limiting Storm to just two goals in the opening 10 minutes of the quarter.

Stars continued to dominate proceedings, nearly doubling their opponents’ score and ending the quarter with a staggering 50-28 advantage.

The hosts rang the changes in the fourth quarter, resting several key players and giving court time to Rosie Allison, Ella Powell-Davis and Amanda Davis.  Although a slightly disjointed final 15 minutes saw their hefty advantage cut back, they still ended the game with a huge 55-43 victory.

Tickets for the next home game against UWS Sirens on Monday, June 11 (7pm) are available at www.severnstars.co.uk.

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: Rockpool Photography

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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