The Melbourne Vixens’ campaign to defend their title in 2021 has been strengthened, with the club’s four squad members being announced.
Tayla Honey, Sacha McDonald and Jordan Cransberg all return to the Melbourne Vixens’ squad for 2021 following a disrupted year, while Victorian midcourter, Hannah Mundy, has been rewarded for her impressive perseverance through the Netball Victoria pathway.
Honey has been in the system since 2017 and made her long-awaited Vixens debut in round 2 of the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball season earlier this year. Both Honey and McDonald travelled to Brisbane for the 13-week stint in the sporting hub, which ultimately saw them come home with a Premiership Trophy and medal.
While court time was hard to find in a star-studded attacking line -up, Honey says she still walked away with key learnings to take through to next season.
“This year was really special in a lot of ways and we obviously had a really impressive year on court – but that came from a lot of hard work behind the scenes and real strength and unity within our Vixens network, so it was really rewarding to come back to Victoria with a Championship win,” Honey said.
“I was really proud of my efforts when I did get my chances on court and the exposure I gained within the elite environment. But I think it was a year of learnings, and to experience just how resilient we all were as a team throughout such a disjointed season was really fulfilling.
“We never lost sight of our goal and what we wanted to achieve. I think watching the other girls out on court this year was really valuable and seeing how they conduct themselves and deal with the physicality was a big learning curve for us all and being able to train alongside them too.”
Having had a taste of the adrenaline in a Super Netball game, Honey sets her sights on a year of development and getting some quality time on the court in the Victorian Netball League and Australian Netball Championships.
“I’m most looking forward to just getting out on court and playing again, especially in VNL and ANL. That’s going to be my biggest thing next year – just to have fun and enjoy my netball.”
McDonald spent the year in the Queensland hub side-by-side retired Vixens stalwarts, Tegan Philip, and Caitlin Thwaites, absorbing as much knowledge as she could before they departed after the Championship win.
“For me, I learnt a lot about learning how to cope with challenges and living with other people and all the skills we’re faced with when we’re not at home in a regular season,” McDonald said.
“I learnt plenty of stuff on court, just experiencing training and match day and what we wouldn’t get back in Victoria in other years. I think off court was more important; we learnt a lot about ourselves.
“From a team perspective the actual team grew a lot and we learnt what didn’t work in previous years, and I think the biggest thing on court was the relationships we built off the court and the hub actually provided that and gave us a bit of an advantage.”
Following a well-deserved Christmas break, McDonald is looking forward to jumping back into her netball commitments at local and Victorian level and training alongside a few new faces.
“I think next year is going to look really different to what this year looked like and I think that will be a real positive for us.
“It’s going to be really hard not having Caity and Tegan around, but that means there’s space for new girls to come in and I’m excited to learn off different people and experience a new-look Vixens team.
“I’ve communicated a lot with the Vixens coaches about the specifics of what I really want to work on, and on court there’s some things I’m really looking forward to and developing even further and working alongside the new girls.”
Having only just been elevated to a squad member earlier this year, 21-year-old midcourter, Jordan Cransberg is yet to get a taste of the elite environment, having spent the year back home in Victoria continuing her training schedule with only a squad of 14 travelling to the Queensland hub.
As a member of the victorious 2019 Victorian Fury side that took out the Deakin University Australian Netball League (DUANL) title last year, the fluid midcourter with a flair in attack has proven she has the skill and mental strength to succeed at top level. After rupturing her ACL in 2018, Cransberg put the time and effort into her recovery and is back fitter and stronger ahead of the new year.
Fellow 2019 Victorian Fury squad member, Hannah Mundy, also caught the eye of the Vixens coaches after a positive year of dedicated training back home in Victoria. Like Cransberg, Mundy was set to train with the Vixens squad after being named in the inaugural Vixens Academy, but has since worked hard to maintain her motivation, skills, and fitness remotely.
The emerging midcourter has just finished the year at the 21/U Australian World Youth Cup squad training camp and will enter the Vixens preseason with plenty of enthusiasm. Mundy, Cransberg, Honey and McDonald will join the rest of the Vixens squad when they return to training in mid-January.