The Vixens’ 2023 season has come to a close after a hard-fought loss to West Coast Fever at RAC Arena in Perth (64-57).
Q1 | Fever 15 - 14 Vixens
It was a confident start form both sides in the second semi final of the weekend, the Vixens keeping their passes short and sharp to strong effect. Loose hands from the Fever handed the visitors the first centre pass break, which the Vixens quickly consolidated. Sunday Aryang and Courtney Bruce piled on the pressure in the circle, but Kiera Austin (3 super shots, 18 centre pass receives) and MJ Kumwenda (39 goals, 2 rebounds) kept their composure, holding their own under the post. Playing patiently around the transverse line, Liz Watson (79 Nissan NetPoints, 23 goal assists) and Kate Moloney (78.5 Nissan NetPoints) took their time finding circle edge, with MJ often coming forward to open up space for Kip. An intercept saw the Fever claw a goal back midway through the quarter, the reigning premiers not letting the Vixens pull away. Kate was on fire in the midcourt, her drives and quick footwork opening up space in the second phase. A super shot saw the Fever take a one-goal lead at the first break.
Q2 | Fever 32 - 30 Vixens
Liv Lewis (1 intercept, 1 gain) came onto court to start the second quarter, with Emily Mannix (2 deflections, 2 gains) shuffling to goal defence as Jo Weston (1 gain, 1 rebound) came off with a rolled ankle. MJ was a rock for the Vixens in the circle, keeping the scoreline ticking over with her agility and strength in the air. Kate Eddy (3 deflections) upped her defensive pressure, leaping late to tap a deflection against an in-form Alice Teague-Neeld. Liv applied the pressure against former teammate Jhaniele Fowler, often forcing her to pass back to circle edge or shoot from range. Em shone in goal defence, her constant presence forcing a turnover and handing the Vixens back the lead. The Vixens were disciplined at circle edge, Liz repeatedly weaving her way through a crowded circle edge to find MJ under the post. Their patience was rewarded with a super shot from Kip, but the match continued to see-saw as Sasha Glasgow quickly responded with a super shot of her own. The Vixens stayed hot on the Fever’s heels, their lead only extended by a single goal heading into the major break.
Q3 | Fever 48 - 44 Vixens
The Vixens looked to open up their attack in the second half, Kate and Liz driving for depth and creating space with quick passing. Kip and Liz continued to provide MJ with pinpoint feeds, their perfectly weighted passes consistently beating the Fever defence. Jo returned to the court as Em came off after a knock to the face, and a crucial deflection from Liv saw a hard-fought turnover go the way of the Vixens; a converted centre pass followed to level the scores. The Vixens looked to counter Fever’s height around circle edge with bounce passes and sharp, low passing, while at the other end, Liv continued to confuse the space with her smart footwork. A turnover saw Fever able to break away to a six-goal lead, but a super shot from Kip kept the Vixens in the game with fifteen minutes left to play.
Q4 | Fever 64 - 57 Vixens
It was an electric final fifteen minutes, Kip finding her feet shooting from range with two quick goals to start. MJ held her own space, using her body and clever footwork to find her way closer to the post. Em returned to court to replace Jo in goal defence, while an overcooked pass gave Fever the chance to build on their lead. The Vixens kept their attack patient, the swinging passes opening up space on the baseline for Kip. Em claimed a crucial deflection, which was quickly converted bringing the Vixens back to within four goals. The pressure continued to build as the Power Five began - a super shot from Kip reduced the margin to just two goals, but Fever’s defence proved too strong, bringing the Vixens’ season to an end.
THE COACH SAYS
Head coach Simone McKinnis was proud of her side’s ability to attack the game and give their all in the fight for a place in the preliminary final.
“I think I was just really proud of the way the girls took on the challenge and the opportunity of coming here, they gave everything they could to that contest today,” she said.
“We couldn’t get the job done ultimately and finish it, but there was some super teamwork, the way they hung in tough and the work they did out there for each other - I loved it.”
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