Happy to be back on the winners’ list, the Melbourne Vixens will now turn their attention to Round 6 and their clash with the GIANTS on Sunday.
Following the GIANTS controversial one-goal loss to the Sunshine Coast Lightning to conclude Round 5, the Vixens are expecting to come up against a GIANTS outfit eager for redemption.
Despite Melbourne Vixens’ Head Coach, Simone McKinnis OAM, sticking with her starting seven for the majority of her side’s nine-goal victory over the Fever in Round 5, there was one sparkling exception; when Co-Captain Kate Moloney limped from the court towards the end of the first quarter, 25-year-old Elle McDonald from Seymour was given the nod to take her place, and in that moment, make her Vixens debut.
“It was such a great experience and I just loved every second that I was out there,” McDonald said. “We were also really happy to walk away with a win, so it was a great experience and I loved it.”
For those of us watching the situation unfold from home, the swap of Moloney and McDonald at centre seemed to happen within the blink of an eye. For McDonald on the bench, the experience wasn’t much different.
“I didn’t really have much time to think about it, but I think having a little bit of experience now just sitting on the bench and knowing that you have to be invested and concentrating for that whole time, [I knew] I’ve always got to be ready…it was definitely a bit of a nerve-racking experience [but] I finally got to debut, so it was nice.”
A few years older than many Suncorp Super Netball debutants, McDonald’s story is one of inspiration. In fact, 2020 is just her first year being a part of the Melbourne Vixens squad, but her hard work and persistence has paid off.
“My pathway has been very different to a lot of other girls who are playing at this level, and honestly, I just love playing the game and to me it’s always just been about pushing myself and playing to the best level that I can play,” McDonald reiterated. “Each year I’ve just set myself a new target, and especially the last 12 months has just been a bit of a whirlwind for me and I’ve been given such great opportunities.
“I definitely have had my setbacks, but I think my Mum and my Nan they’ve always said they’re my biggest support crew, so they’ve also just continued to support me and pushed me along and they’ve believed in me, so I think that’s given me confidence in my own ability as well.
“But honestly, it’s just my passion for the game, and just wanting to be the best that I can be.”
Coming off a disappointing loss to the Adelaide Thunderbirds in Round 4, McDonald explained her Head Coach’s message for when they took on the Fever.
“The message was just to focus on our game. With them having such a strong target in goal shooter, we knew that it was going to have to be a real team effort, so I think we were able to produce that and everyone just played their role really well, and I think that’s why we came away with the win.
The Vixens strategy in focusing on their own game will be similar when they face the GIANTS.
“It’s one day at a time. Having the condensed season, everyone’s trying to do the right things in terms of recovery and making sure they have a rest day and then are prepared to come out really strong from the start.
“[We need to] play the way we know we’re strong at playing - I think the GIANTS will come out strong and they are a tough team - so again just focusing on our strengths and playing the way we have been; hard defence, ruthless and just being really dynamic in attack.”
The Vixens will host the GIANTS at USC Stadium on the Sunshine Coast on Sunday 23 August. The game will be broadcast live on Channel 9 from 1pm.
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