The bar has been set says Vixens Captain Bianca Chatfield
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After five games in three days, including a Grand Final at the ANZ Championships preseason tournament, there's no time for the Melbourne Vixens to rest and reflect - they are back training harder than ever.
The Vixens were strong off the starting blocks, defeating the LG Mystics, EasiYo Tactix, and Adelaide Thunderbirds. Following a hard-fought loss to the Haier Pulse (39-40), the Vixens went through to the Grand Final against the reigning premiers, Queensland Firebirds.
The unbeaten Firebirds outclassed the Vixens with a 50-30 defeat. Despite a disappointing result, Vixens Captain Bianca Chatfield said overall the tournament was an invaluable experience.
"We usually play preseason matches against the Australian teams but it was great to have the opportunity to play against the New Zealand teams too before the official season starts. They have quite a different style of play to us and its great to get a taste of that to add to our preparation," she said.
Although disappointed with the Grand Final loss, Chatfield said it revealed just how high the Firebirds had raised the bar this season.
"They're definitely the pace-setters and have raised the bar for the standard of competition this year. They're very slick on court, they barely make mistakes and if they do, they never make them again. It was a great test run for us as were up against them in our first ANZ Champs game. Now we know what level we need to work towards to be successful this season,"Chatfield said.
The team went into the tournament hoping to establish the strongest combinations on court and came away with several promising options.
"We've established a strong defensive unit in the GK, GD and WD positions. Despite who is in each position, we've got more variety and flexibility with our options. The tournament was also a good opportunity for Tegan, Karyn and Kate to work together and once Ash has recovered, were looking forward having her slot in to the mix too,"she said.
A surprising combination was seeing defender Julie Corletto in the Centre bib, wreaking havoc across the court.
"Julie is an amazing and very versatile athlete - she's fit and strong and has the height that other centres dont have which makes her a good option if we need to mix up the combinations for one reason or another," she said.
Without seeing much of the action from the other pool of teams in the tournament, Chatfield noted that the Mystics, Magic and West Coast Fever would be teams to watch this season.
The next four weeks, before the Vixens v Firebirds rematch on April 1st, will be a time of intensive training including a practice match against the Adelaide Thunderbirds on March 24th in Bendigo.
Melbourne Vixens defeated LG Mystics (48-40), Melbourne Vixens defeated EasiYo
Tactix (46-38), Vixens defeated Adelaide Thunderbirds (43-29). Haier Pulse
defeated Melbourne Vixens (40-39),Queensland Firebirds defeated Melebourne Vixens (50-30)