The Vixens headed up the Calder on the weekend for two days of pre-season netball action in Bendigo.
With attendance reaching over 3000 fans on each day, crowds at Red Energy Arena witnessed five exciting on-court contests from a Victorian Men’s League exhibition match to clashes between the Vixens, Adelaide Thunderbirds, GIANTS Netball and Sunshine Coast Lightning.
The Roadshow at Golden City Netball Association on Saturday morning was an opportunity for netball fans to meet Kiera Austin, Kate Eddy, Emily Mannix, Hannah Mundy and Olivia Lewis, who joined in some junior clinics and gave an insight into life as an elite netballer in a fan Q&A.
The Bendigo crowd got a taste of men’s netball when the Victorian Men’s Reserve side put on a fierce display in the curtain raiser, demonstrating their pace and aerial skill to defeat the exciting 23/Under team in a 40-minute exhibition match (43-25).
Our first SSN pre-season match kicked off next, the Thunderbirds’ Tippah Dwan nailing a super shot on the buzzer to claim a one-goal victory over GIANTS Netball in a thriller (58-59).
Three solid quarters had the Vixens up by three goals at the final break against the Lightning in our first hit out, but a stunning final term from the fast-finishing Lightning saw them take an 11-goal win (55-66) thanks to some slick ball movement and suffocating defensive pressure.
Netball Victoria’s coaching and umpiring workshops took place on Sunday, enabling members of the netball community to experience an in-depth discussion and analysis hosted by inaugural Vixens head coach Julie Hoornweg and A Badge umpire Meagan Keating.
Attendees were able to gain great insight into coaching and umpiring practices to bring back to their local associations, including from post-match analysis with match day umpires and Vixens assistant coach Di Honey.
Lightning claimed their second win for the weekend on Sunday, defeating the Thunderbirds by 9 (60-69) despite a strong showing from Adelaide’s new recruit Elle Cardwell. The England Roses star looked right at home in pink – and in the super shot zone.
The final match of the weekend saw the Vixens take on a youthful GIANTS side, leading at every break and putting on a blistering 20-goals-to-8 final term to register a 23-goal win (74-51).
Training partners Gabby Coffey and Sharni Lambden put out strong performances when given an opportunity in defence, while Kiera Austin starred with a handful of her trademark centre-third intercepts across the match.
The squad’s depth and versatility was on display in both matches, Hannah Mundy getting plenty of court time with Liz Watson and Kate Moloney rotating through the midcourt, and Kate Eddy, Emily Mannix, Liv Lewis and Coffey each stepping into GD in Jo Weston’s absence.
Head coach Simone McKinnis was pleased with her side’s efforts, noting the importance of SSN-level matches in preparing for the season ahead.
“You can play practice matches, you can play inter-squad but there’s nothing like playing another SSN team as a big reminder of what [the intensity] is like and what it’s going to be like in a few weeks’ time when the season starts.
“I think everybody at different times showed some great stuff out there… to get away together and spend time together as a team was really important as well as what’s happening on court.”
“We’ll digest these past couple of games… there’s a couple of learnings there from the weekend and they become your priority and what we’ll focus on training-wise for the next two weeks leading into Team Girls Cup.”
McKinnis said the squad had a great experience visiting Bendigo.
“We’ve loved it, it’s been a few years since we’ve played here – it’s a great crowd to play in front of and it’s been a really enjoyable weekend.”
Vic Men’s Reserve  def 23/Under 
GIANTS  def by Thunderbirds 
Vixens  def by Lightning 
Thunderbirds  def by Lightning 
Vixens  def GIANTS 
Bound4Bendigo was made possible by the support of the Victorian Government, McCafé and the City of Greater Bendigo.
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