Kate Eddy embraces Emily Mannix. (Photo: Melbourne Vixens)

A disappointing season for the Melbourne Vixens has seen them go from reigning premiers to wooden spooners after facing defeat in 12 games this year.

A disappointing season for the Melbourne Vixens has seen them go from reigning premiers to wooden spooners after facing defeat in 12 games this year.

After losing to the Firebirds on Wednesday night, the Vixens will return home to Melbourne with their tails between their legs, reflecting on the highs and lows of the home and away season.

A rocky start and a frustrating finish characterises the heart-aching year it’s been for the Vixens, making it hard to believe the same club took home the premiership last season.

Simone McKinnis’ ninth season at the Vixens has been arguably the team’s worst, but an articulate and well executed plan of attack for 2022 can give the Melburnians a chance at redemption.

Hannah Mundy leaps to receive pass in Vixen’s final game for 2021. (Photo: Super Netball / Twitter)

What Worked?

Super Shots kept the Vixens in so many games across the season, with Mwai Kumwenda ranking second for attempts and third for conversions.

Kumwenda landed a total of 40 Super Shots over the 14 rounds of the home and away this season, proving the two-point goal can make or break teams.

Young Guns debuted for the Vixens throughout the season and each of them bought a particular flare that demonstrates a talented Victorian netball pathway.

Hannah Mundy, Ruby Barkmeyer, Allie Smith and Rahni Samason held their own against international veterans earning accolades for the right reasons.

Smith comes in as an unsung hero for the Vixens whilst Mundy leaped at the opportunity to fill the shoes of an injured Liz Watson.

Both young stars undisputedly fulfilled their roles, particularly Mundy, who finishes the season with 136 goal assists and 17 deflections.

The defence for the Vixens worked tirelessly throughout the season to produce consistent performances.

Mannix, Dehaney and Weston demonstrated their individual and combined talent to pull off intercepts and deflections.

In many instances, the dynamic defence kept the Vixens in the game, with Dehaney being utilised as an impact player when necessary.

What Didn’t?

So many things didn’t work in favour of the Vixens this season, with the loss of Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip and the inability to produce a strong finish among the lowlights.

A new shooting circle featuring Ruby Barkmeyer and Kaylia Stanton took time to adapt to the Vixens’ style of play.

Replacing Australian representative shooters is never an easy task, but inconsistent game time for both Stanton and Barkmeyer saw neither goaler make a strong connection with Kumwenda on court.

Injury trouble: The Vixens couldn’t catch a break with the injury of Liz Watson, and it took a significant amount of time for the team to re-establish a strong centre court connection.

Constantly letting go of early leads and failing to generate a powerful finish has been troublesome for the Melburnians.

McKinnis has notably discussed her team’s lack of energy in the final quarter, saying the ability for the Vixens to push home has been absent on many occasions.

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Season Highlight

In arguably one of the best Super Netball debuts in history, Rahni Samason helped the Vixens to secure their first win of the season.

Samason demonstrated a new ray of hope for the defeated Vixens, ending the game with 93 per cent shooting accuracy from the circle and 80 per cent within Super Shot territory.

This isn’t even to mention the 10 goal assists and one turnover. The 23-year-old aided the Vixens in a crucial victory that would boost the team’s morale at a time when they needed it most.

The Vixens would go on to take down the a strong Lightning outfit in Round 9 from their home ground of John Cain Arena.

Samason’s feature was a breath of fresh air for Vixen’s supporters after losing shooters Thwaites and Philip at the conclusion of the 2020 season.

Only time will tell if Samason is granted a contract opportunity for next season, but one thing is for sure, there is plenty of Victorian pathway talent for McKinnis to add to her ensemble.

Season Lowlight

Facing defeat in both matches against Melbourne rivals Collingwood did nothing but decrease morale for the Vixens.

Losing in Rounds 7 and 11, the Vixens fell short of victory whilst the Magpies asserted their dominance.

The Round 7 clash saw McKinnis’ side fall in a 16-goal demolition where Collingwood capitalised off errors and took advantage of the 53 penalties given away.

McKinnis was left without a single positive thing to say about her struggling side following the defeat.

Whilst in Round 11, missed Super Shots cost the Vixens a victory, with the goalers landing only two of seven for the game.

The round 11 clash begs the question of ‘what went wrong?,’ as statistics prove the Vixens should have redeemed themselves this time.

Securing more intercepts and spending more time in possession, a high penalty count consequently gave the Magpies the opportunity to edge ahead.

Jodi-Ann Ward starred as Collingwood claimed another win over the Vixens. (Photo: Dani Brown)

Team MVP

Kate Moloney has been a standout this season, her leadership, resilience, tenacity and passion for the team is unmatched.

Moloney embodied the role of captain, and her leadership shone through in the darkest of times for the defeated Vixens.

Kate Moloney wins Sharelle McMahon Medal. Photo- Super Netball

Filling in for an injured Watson, her timeout pep-talks and motivational speeches lifted the Vixens morale immensely.

Moloney’s seniority and experience has benefited the many young stars of the team, who have a fantastic role model as their leader.

Taking Hannah Mundy under her wing, there were some real shining moments in their connection throughout the season with Moloney playing a significant role in her growth as a player.

The 28-year-old has showed her toughness on and off court this season, triumphing in the face of adversity.

Rising Star

It’s hard to pinpoint a rising star for the Vixens with so many new additions to the team, but it’s Hannah Mundy who earns the title as the player to watch next season.

Hannah Mundy.
Hannah Mundy against the Thunderbirds. (Photo: Grant Treeby/NV)

First selected as a squad member, the 20-year-old was a new addition to the Vixens’ team this year, following the injury of Liz Watson.

A standout in the Victorian Netball League, she was gifted a golden opportunity to debut as a Vixen after featuring in Victorian state representative teams and being selected in the 21U World Cup Youth Squad.

Mundy has been awarded Fan MVP in back-to-back rounds and takes away a season total of 136 goal assists, five intercepts, 17 deflections and 201 centre pass receives.

The charismatic youngster has flourished in her partnership with Kate Moloney, she is creative with her feeds into the circle and has fast pace on the drive downcourt.

Mundy has held her own against many international veterans and has taken this season in her stride to better her overall performance.

A stellar performance this season has earned Mundy a position in the Australian Diamonds Development Squad, demonstrating that her future is bright within the netball realm.

Moving Forward

Approaching the 2022 season, the Vixens will have redemption on their mind as they work to find and develop strong combinations across all areas of the court.

With Mundy only selected as a fill-in this season, it will be interesting to see what the future holds for the young star if Watson is fit to play next year.

If (and when) Watson takes to the court, the Vixens may take a while to gel as a team again.

The Vixens also face troubles in the shooting circle with Barkmeyer, Stanton and Kumwenda failing to form a dynamic connection.

Inconsistent shooting percentages for the goalers overall has seen Kumwenda drop off the ranks as the league’s top shooter after an MVP Grand Final performance last year.

Samason may get the call up to feature in the contracted 10 after her phenomenal debut exposed a connection with Kumwenda.

Mwai Kumwenda of the Melbourne Vixens. (Photo: supernetball.com.au)

Kate Eddy recently earned a selection in the Australian Diamonds Development Squad, giving reason to believe the Vixens will make an offer to keep her at the club for the next season.

After failing to make Diamonds development selection, Allie Smith may be the player that departs the Vixens to keep Mundy in the contracted side.

Defensively, Weston, Mannix and Dehaney have done the work to earn themselves a 2022 contract, putting in consistent performances week-in week-out.

The future of Super Netball is exciting. A new broadcast deal for the league will have the game featured nationwide, creating new opportunities for talent to be displayed.

With the pandemic still lurking, where the 2022 season will be played remains unknown, as lockdowns across Australia have created an extra bump in the road for all eight teams this year.

One thing is for sure though, the Vixens’ have an impressive future ahead if they can build on young talent and maintain key veterans who embody the fearless Vixen mentality.

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