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Nat Panagarry of Loughborough Lightning looks up to the left

Loughborough Lightning have made a habit of being one of the best teams in the Netball Super League over the last couple of seasons.

Having won the title in 2021, Victoria Burgess’ side made it all the way to the Grand Final again last year but were beaten by Manchester Thunder. 

Not content with a runners-up medal, Lightning have enjoyed a positive pre-season and are hungrier than ever as they look to claim back the title this season.

Last Season  

Having finished second in the regular season, Lightning breezed past London Pulse with a dominant 56-44 semi-final victory before falling to a 60-53 defeat against Manchester Thunder in the Grand Final at the Copper Box Arena. 

Lightning lost only twice last year, both times to the unbeaten Thunder, but recorded some impressive victories over the other top-four sides London Pulse and Team Bath, beating Pulse 61-50 at the Season Opener and Bath 53-44 in Round 8.

Signing Window

Loughborough have made two external additions for this season to go with the raft of young players coming through Loughborough University’s development pathways. 

To complement their already-impressive shooting group, former Leeds Rhino and Future Roses star Rhea Dixon joins having missed the entirety of last season through injury. 

Defender Jas Odeogberin returns to the side, having spent a year with London Pulse, with the goal defender looking to add to the title she won Lightning in 2021.

Clara Miles, Bella Baylis, and Molly Hole also come into the side to complete Lightning’s squad as training partners.

Star Player

England netball stalwart Fran Williams moved to Loughborough Lightning at the start of last season and was a lynchpin in the side’s defensive efforts. 

The defender made 73 turnovers, 58 deflections and 36 interceptions last season and will be looking to claim her third NSL title having won back-to-back championships with Wasps.

One to Watch

19-year-old shooter Emma Thacker made her debut last year and impressed crowds with her maturity and incredible ability at such a young age.

Thacker, who has played for England U17, U19 and U21s, also made an appearance in the Grand Final after the early injury to Ella Clark and had a 78% goal percentage across the season.

What They Said

“In pre-season, I felt like we have been playing better and I hope that we can take that into the season,” said captain, Nat Panagarry.

“The culture that we have built, and the friendships we have, you can see that on the court. We get on so well. 

“I think if we lift that trophy this year I will be inconsolably crying with the number of tears and energy that will have gone into it.

“That desire to win and hunger has actually intensified. It’s there even more, the amount we have all been through as individuals, that will is there even stronger to get to the final and lift that trophy.”

Coach’s Corner

Head coach Vic Burgess was an assistant coach when Lightning won in 2021, and despite defeat last year, she remains as driven as ever to win silverware with the side. 

“I don’t think it’s revenge; probably unfinished business,” Burgess said.

We’re here to win it. We came very close to it last season, from doing the double, and everyone is passionate in our squad about taking that title back.

“We have a real sense of togetherness. Everybody enjoys everybody’s company, they love training, the environment they train in is so challenging, and everybody is up for getting better every day and that’s made a huge difference. 

“Everybody has a collective goal of winning this season and that’s going to be ultimately what’s going to take us through.”

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