The mid-season break has arrived for the Sunshine Coast Lightning and whilst Lightning leads Suncorp Super Netball the challenges loom large.
The Lightning defeated top of the table rivals Giants Netball on Saturday to take the top spot, leading the competition at this stage of the year is quite unexpected for coach Kylee Byrne.
“It was unexpected, in terms of the matches on the weekend,” she said.
“They could have gone either way.”
Lightning dropped matches against finals rival West Coast Fever and cross-town rivals Queensland Firebirds the week prior.
When the Lightning came up against the Giants, their opponents sat on top of the ladder.
“We went into our Giants match and it was let’s just win and see what happens and the results fell our way, and to come out of this round on top was quite exciting.
“It’s a great place to be.”
Now, in the second half of the year the challenge for the Lightning will be to keep the ball rolling against tough rivals.
Byrne spoke about the challenge the Lightning face going forward.
“I still think there are a lot of areas that we could be quite better at,” she said.
“The exciting thing about this group is that we haven’t hit our potential yet. We’re still building, and we talk about building as the season goes on.
“There are still quite a few areas we need to work on.”
Nevertheless, Byrne is happy with where they stand as a team at this point of the season.
One of the key strengths for the Lightning has been their versatility, which was on show against the Giants. Replacement shooter Peace Proscovia shot 16 goals in the last quarter to help get Lightning over the line.
Byrne spoke about using the versatility the team has to their advantage.
“We saw that (the versatility) on the weekend with Peace and even Binnian Hunt. They both put their hands up and really made me look at them as well.”
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And the second half of the year may see more opportunities like those mentioned, with more people pushing to get minutes.
“From a team perspective, going into what the next couple of games looks like, and how we can utilise all ten players is going to be a challenge,” she said.
“But it’s an exciting challenge. Within this group anyone can put their hand up on any day.
“It’s down to us as coaches to determine who’s best to be out on court at any particular time, and they know that, the group feels that.
“They’re pushing each other, knowing there’s always someone behind them wanting their spot. From that sort of thing, we’re in a good spot.”
The Lightning will take on Collingwood Magpies in their first game back from the break. Byrne knows that they will have to be on top of their game to defeat them.
“I think this is a real danger game,” she said.
“They’re full of confidence, coming off a great win in that local derby. They are gonna want to redeem what happened in the first round where we got them.
“We’re going to have to play a different style than we did against the Giants. [This match] is one that we really need to put away.”
With the Magpies and Vixens temporarily relocated to the Sunshine Coast, any home-court advantage the Lightning may have is now out of the window again. Byrne said the crowd will need to play a part in willing the Lightning over the line.
“Home court advantage is now out of the window. They trained here all through the Covid hub last year.
“So, they know the training conditions perfectly, almost as well as we do.
“We’ll need our home crowd to come along and support and make it a true home game. Because for them [the Magpies], they’ll be so familiar with everything that’s going on.”
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