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Loughborough v Saracens

Lightning suffer away defeat

Loughborough Lightning took home a difficult defeat on Saturday night after a physical battle on the road with Saracens Mavericks clinching the 54 – 41 win in round three of the Vitality Netball Superleague.

The match started with a fairly even playing surface, Ugandan Shooter Mary Cholhok claimed her first Superleague start, whilst Lightning veterans Clark, Panagarry and Joseph continued to claim the starting mid-court spots. Facing an equally experienced side with England Roses sisters Sasha and Kadeen Corbin feeding directly into two-time superleague champion shooter Georgie Fisher.

Eager to impress their home fans for their first home match of the season, newly named Saracens Mavericks got off to a flying start, claiming the first four goals. But Lightning were soon making their mark in the game closing the gap. With both circle defenders keeping close to Cholhok, in an attempt to disrupt Joseph’s drop balls, it was up to Clark to sink the first shots against her old side.

End of Q1: Loughborough Lightning 12 – 17 Saracens Mavericks

Beginning the second quarter with the same line-up Lightning were wide awake and ready to rewrite the opening fifteen minutes and get themselves on top of the home side. With both teams increasing the speed and physicality, much to the delight of the sold-out home crowd, every single ball was fought tooth and nail to be kept in possession. Fancy footwork from Cholhok and dominance in the D from Oyesola and Keenan saw Lightning double their points before the half-time break.

Half-time: Loughborough Lightning 24 – 35 Saracens Mavericks

Moving Panagarry to WD and bringing on Shaw to centre, Lightning needed to muster all their remaining energy to turn the fate of the game around in the second half. The physicality and aggression on court ramped up yet again and both sides sought every opportunity to wreak havoc and disrupt the flow of the game. Their best quarter of the game saw Lightning close the gap to just four goals with 5 minutes left in the quarter.

End of Q3: Loughborough Lightning 37 – 44 Saracens Mavericks

A huge fifteen minutes stood between Lightning and the end as the final quarter got underway. An unchanged Lightning side mustered all they could to once again close the gap to just four however a series of mistakes opened up the opportunity Mavericks were looking for to run away with the ball and widen the gap once and for all to seal the win.

Full-time: Loughborough Lightning 51 – 64 Saracens Mavericks

Head Coach Sara Bayman was keen to highlight the game’s positives, despite the final score;

“I think today was frustrating because we did some really good stuff but we gave too much ball away. We knew today was going to be tough, Mavericks have been named one of the favourites this season but we also knew we had the game and determination to match them. I think we proved that in parts tonight but I think if you give a quality side like Mavs too much opportunity they’re going to use it to their advantage and run away with it as they did tonight.”

Regardless of the extreme physicality of the game, causing multiple cautions for both sides, Bayman was pleased with the effort put in from her side;

“I think Ella Clark had a really strong game, our defensive unit grew throughout the game seeing Vicki and Tuaine coming out with a lot of ball towards the end. Our mid-court generally just grafted which we wanted from this game but I think across the board everyone needs to take individual responsibility for their own errors tonight.”

Looking ahead to next week’s fixture, Bayman cited Sirens new signing as their secret weapon;

“I think Sirens is an exciting one as they’ve improved massively from last year and I think they’ll upset a few teams this season. They’ve got a massive target shooter in terms of Cat Tuivaiti so we’re going to need to win ball a bit earlier up the court. Hopefully, we can fix a few things in training this week and go into next week feeling confident.”

Lightning are back in action next weekend on home turf as they welcome Strathclyde Sirens to Loughborough University. The match will form part of the Pink Party event where we’ll be aiming to raise as much money as we can for Cancer Research UK. Fans are encouraged to wear pink and come early to join in all the games and activities before the main event at 6pm.

Tickets are selling fast so secure yours now: www.loughboroughlightning.com

Photo credit: Loughborough University 

mary cholhok

Ugandan Mary Cholhok signs for Lightning

Loughborough Lightning Netball have unveiled the signing of Ugandan goal shooter Mary Cholhok, who becomes the second Ugandan international to tread the floors of Loughborough University, after the recent departure of Peace Proscovia from the Vitality Netball Superleague franchise.

The 21 year old She Cranes international will fill follow in the footsteps of fellow goal shooter, countrywoman and idol Proscovia, who has swapped one Lightning for another as she moves down under to play for Australian franchise Sunshine Coast Lightning.

Having shown rapid progress over the last three years Cholhok, who stands at 6ft 7, will pose a huge threat to her Vitality Netball Superleague rivals when she links up with the East Midlands based franchise for the 2019 VNSL season. Having been named Most Valuable Player at the World University Games in 2016, Cholhok has also played in the African World Cup qualifiers and Uganda’s recent three match series against England.

Having only started playing netball five years ago Cholhok has enjoyed a rapid rise, earning her place in the Vitality Netball Superleague Grand Finalist’s squad after just one year of senior international netball.

On the prospect of playing netball in England, Cholhok said: “I’m so excited and just can’t wait to step through the gates at Loughborough and I’m so eager to see it. In September I first found out there might be the chance to come to Loughborough and when I signed the contract I partied all night!

“It’s a great opportunity for me as a young person and I think I’ll be able to develop my career at the University. Peace has told me it develops talent and really encourages sport and particularly girls’ sports, but that the education is really good as well.

“I want to develop my talent in netball and also go further with my studies, but I also want to inspire more girls who have not yet discovered who they are and how far their talents can take them. I hope to inspire them like I was inspired by Peace.”

Loughborough Lightning Head Coach Sara Bayman added: “Lightning are committed to developing talent and Mary is one of the most exciting up and coming players in world netball.

“Having strong links with Uganda has allowed us to identify Mary as a long-term prospect and show our faith in her by offering a contract at an early stage of her international career.

“Peace is a role model to girls in Uganda and I’m sure Mary will provide the same level of inspiration as she continues to pursue her netball dream in the Vitality Netball Superleague.”

Tickets to see Loughborough Lightning in action during the 2019 season are on sale here.

You can get tickets to watch all 10 teams in action at the Super 10 season opener here.

Photo Credit: Loughborough University

bayman-tri

Sara Bayman: “We will now look ahead”

Loughborough Lightning showcased their new look team for the first time on Saturday in the first of their pre-season tournaments.

Eager to put their new combinations to the test, Lightning welcomed fellow Vitality Netball Superleague sides Team Bath and Strathclyde Sirens to Loughborough University for a tournament style fixture.

At the helm for the first time in their home venue, Head Coach Sara Bayman used each quarter as an opportunity to test combination and give all players crucial game time.

She said: “The aim of today was always to expose players, to work on combinations and to test some players out.

“I think we did that, we managed to get everyone on court, giving them some good court time and managed to get some different combinations out there and really have a look at people.”

Despite losing both their matches, Bayman cited the difference between the two matches as promising and encouraging.

She said: “I think there’s a mixed bag from today, everyone was really disappointed with our performance against Sirens and I think you saw a bit of rustiness from the girls as it’s a long time between finishing the Vitality Netball Superleague and playing again at this level.

“We had a much-improved performance against Bath and I think that’s a real indication of what we can really do moving forward.

“I think for me what was pleasing to see the reaction from game one to game two where the girls were really down after game one but that fight and spirit to come out and play really well against Bath was really pleasing.”

In the absence of Nat Panagarry due to international duties, Lightning were led by Hannah Joseph who makes up this year’s leadership group, alongside Vicki Oyesola who’s performance on the day really set the standard of what’s to come.

Bayman said: “In terms of standout performances, I think Vicki Oyesola had a fantastic day across both games and Hannah Joseph did a great job leading the team.

“Our shooting combinations are now starting to gel, they’re starting to find their way around the circle show us what they can do.”

Next weekend Lightning will travel to Manchester Thunder in their next pre-season fixture.

Drawing from the day’s events, Bayman is now planning for the forthcoming month, she said: “We will now look ahead to our away game against Thunder on Saturday which is another good test for us and another opportunity to improve and build.

“Over the next month or so it’s about every day improving and making sure we know our systems and know how we want to play and that everyone is clear and understands their role in all situations.

“It will be really nice to have Nat and Ella back from international duty and have some opportunity to get them back in the mix and enjoy working as a whole squad to build connections and build understanding.”

Tickets are now on sale for Super 10 – get your squad together and head to the season opener on Saturday 5th January 2019 at Arena Birmingham!

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.