Vixens still finding their groove after ‘terrible’ first half

McAuliffe takes the ball ahead of Hannah Mundy
Sunshine Coast Lightning's Maddy McAuliffe takes the ball out in front of Melbourne Vixens' Hannah Mundy. Photo: supernetball.com.au

The Melbourne Vixens are still finding their groove in 2021, falling five goals short of the Sunshine Coast Lightning in round two of the Suncorp Super Netball season.

A late push in the final term wasn’t enough, coach Simone McKinnis lamenting a ‘terrible’ first half.

Replacing three champions is not an easy task and the Vixens are struggling to settle on new combinations.

In the midcourt, Melbourne are without Australian Diamond Liz Watson who will miss the season with a foot injury.

Hannah Mundy is currently the temporary replacement player for Watson, elevated from a training partner prior to round one.

Mundy, daughter of netball World Champion Shelley O’Donnell, is rising to the challenge of the increase in pace and intensity.

She played the full 60 minutes at wing attack in the loss, receiving 13 centre passes and feeding 22 balls into the ring.

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McKinnis said the team is still getting used to the new set up in the midcourt.

“It took us a little while to adjust that centre pass and create something different than what we were doing, and [find] some space and work for each other,” she said.

“But I think in that second half, we opened that up much better and were more creative on that centre pass.”

The coach isn’t pointing the finger at any one player, instead saying that it is a challenge the whole team needs to rise to.

“It’s not just about her, it’s about the timing, it’s about the way the ball is brought down,” McKinnis said.

“It’s about the way that everybody presents, the timing and reading the play, making the moves. That’s what it comes down to.

“The better you read the play, the better the timing, the more easily you’re able to let the ball go and create it for each other.”

For much of the match, the flow was also missing in the goal circle.

New recruit Kaylia Stanton went to the bench early, with young attacker Ruby Markmeyer taking the goal attack bib.

Post match, McKinnis thought Barkmeyer grew into the role throughout the game and added some variety on transition.

“We started to let the ball go much better,” McKinnis said.

“We were starting to have a bit more variety in the options we were providing for the thrower.”

The Vixens will look to build on their fourth quarter effort and intensity against the NSW Swifts in round three, while the Lightning take on fellow undefeated side the West Coast Fever.

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