The NSW Swifts backed up their win over the West Coast Fever last week by dominating the Melbourne Vixens 62-48 in Round 10 of the Suncorp Super Netball.
The Swifts started fast, with the first seven goals of the match, which was more than the Vixens would score in the first quarter. At the first break, the Swifts led 18-6, and never looked back.
Sarah Klau had three gains in the first quarter, in what was the beginning of a Player of the Match winning performance. Klau would finish with 12 gains, two rebounds, and an all-around dominant performance.
After the match, Swifts coach Briony Akle lauded Klau, and all the Swifts for the defensive effort.
“Sarah got Player of the Match, but I think the full team set her up, and especially in that first quarter, keeping them to a low score,” Akle said.
“I’m proud of her, but I’m also proud of the rest of the team for making it easier for her at that backline.”
Co-captain Maddy Proud, coming off a strong performance in her 100th game last week, spoke about the focus for the team of not getting ahead of themselves.
“This week was about going back to basics,” Proud explained.
“We know historically for us, it’s the consistency… but backing up, and after such a high of last week, knocking off the Fever, it was going back to all those little things, and having a narrow focus and just going back to the process.”
The process certainly worked, as the Swifts won each of the first three quarters, running out to a game high lead of 23 goals early in the final quarter.
Sam Wallace finished the match early, playing less minutes in the final quarter, but finished with 100% shooting accuracy. Helen Housby was her usual dominant self, chipping in with a team high 17 centre pass receives, nine goals and two gains of her own.
Proud was excited by the way the team had played, but didn’t want to get ahead of herself, as the Swifts have back to back wins after the bye.
“A big focus for us has been celebrating the little wins, and we know we play our best netball when we are enjoying it, and when you’ve got this squad and this score line you can do that,” she said.
“I think it’s about not getting complacent and knowing that sometimes we are our own worst enemy, and we let the game get away from us sometimes, so there are definitely things to work on.”
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The Swifts have been doing it tough recently, despite the strong results on the court. They are partway through their third week in hotel isolation, after a week in Queensland and 10 days in Victoria on arrival.
Akle is travelling with two of her four sons, while her husband Sarkis and her remaining sons are behind in Sydney. Assistant Coach Bec Bulley is another among the travelling party to be juggling netball and motherly duties at the moment.
“It’s been hard, there’s no denying that, and it has been hard on the teams that have had to do it, but I think we’re super resilient, and this is what we love to do,” Akle explained.
“We’re given the opportunity, we’re privileged that we’re out here getting to do it.”
Proud was happy to talk about the upside of being in such close proximity for that extended time, especially for a team like the Swifts that have had a similar squad for a number of years.
“We have had the core of this team together for a little while now, so experience and knowing one another definitely shows as you have more time on the court together,” Proud said.
“Particularly at the moment, we are spending a lot of time together but I think when a team is on, your timing is there, you’re reading off one another, you’re really focussed on who’s in front of you.”
The Swifts are now top of the ladder, and may be a game clear, pending the outcome of the Sunshine Coast Lightning and West Coast Fever matchup later in Round 10.
They will then play the Lightning next week, at a location still to be determined.
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