2022: The year that was

2022 MV
1 year ago

It may not have been the fairytale ending we were after, but 2022 has held plenty to be proud of for our Vixens. Finishing bottom of the ladder in 2021, we flipped the script this season taking out top spot and making our way to the Grand Final.

Driven by a desire for redemption, with a couple of fresh faces we put last season to bed in Round 1 with a win against Queensland Firebirds. Recruits Olivia Lewis and Kiera Austin made their Vixens debut, while co-captain Liz Watson also returned to the court after missing last season with a navicular bone fracture.

We were handed a challenge in Round 2, taking on reigning premiers NSW Swifts on their home deck. But our grit and determination saw us steal the win and make it two on the trot.

Playing our first home game in front of our Vixens fans since Round 9 last year was a magical moment, after spending the best part of two seasons away in hubs. We also got to pay homage to the great history of our club in Heritage Round, taking inspiration from the Melbourne Phoenix and Melbourne Kestrels and getting the win over GIANTS.

We backed up that performance only days later, taking down West Coast Fever in a thriller. Lewis took it up to former teammate Jhaniele Fowler in the circle, while Mwai Kumwenda and Austin ran riot in the goal circle posting a whopping 75 goal total.

We suffered our first loss of the season in Round 5 against Sunshine Coast Lightning before bouncing back the next week to return to the winners list at home against the Thunderbirds.

Squad member Sharni Lambden made her long-awaited debut against Collingwood Magpies in the first Victorian Derby on home soil in over two years. The wing defence wasted no time, injecting herself into the action with a crafty intercept.

Fellow youngsters Hannah Mundy and Rahni Samason continued to make a name for themselves throughout the season, the duo coming on and making a difference each time they hit the court. Samason proved her reliability under pressure while Mundy impressed with her capacity to hit circle edge with great precision and rotate through either centre or wing attack.

We overcame multiple obstacles across the season with players and coaches unavailable due to health and safety protocols. Di Honey was handed the coaching reins in Round 8 and made it one from one, claiming her first win as head coach over the Firebirds in Simone McKinnis’ absence.

Back on the road for Rounds 9 and 10, composure and smarts saw us take out an overtime classic against GIANTS in Sydney. We backed it up in Perth with a win over Fever, putting us a game clear at the top of the ladder.

We reclaimed the Sargeant-McKinnis Cup by defeating NSW Swifts in a thriller, and celebrated First Nations Round in style the following week thanks to talented artist Bri Apma-Hayes who designed our dress.

Winning five on the trot, we headed into the back end of the season with plenty of confidence - co-captain Kate Moloney proving once again to be a fearless leader through the midcourt while Kate Eddy made every opposition feeder’s life difficult and starred on transition.

The combination of Jo Weston and Emily Mannix continued to build throughout the season, proving to be a formidable force. In Round 12 the defensive duo broke a stats record collecting seven gains apiece against Sunshine Coast Lightning, highlighting their defensive nous and cleanliness to get hands to ball time and time again.

We secured the minor premiership – and the right to a home semi final – against the Thunderbirds in Adelaide in Round 13, and got over the line in another tight contest against the Magpies in the Queen’s Birthday derby clash to round out the home and away season.

Our major semi final against Fever didn’t go to plan, but having earned a second chance we took on GIANTS Netball the following week in the preliminary final which did not disappoint - it came down to the wire in front of a passionate home crowd at John Cain Arena.

Missing the services of Austin due to health and safety protocols, Samason, Kumwenda and the elevated Ruby Barkmeyer put on a brilliant team performance. It was some Mannix magic that stole the show, a huge intercept in the dying seconds of the game propelling us into the Grand Final by the slimmest of margins.

Although we fell short in Perth, there is no shortage of positives, excitement and inspiring moments to take from this season – bring on 2023.

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