Sunshine Coast Lightning enter the mid-season break with 5 wins under their belt, sitting in first on the Suncorp Super Netball ladder.
Yet a common theme has emerged amongst the group – that there is plenty more improvement to come.
Having played every team once, only West Coast Fever and Queensland Firebirds have had their measure, and the team will be motivated to put in a stronger showing in the second half.
By the numbers, Lightning have won 14 and drawn 2 quarters. Even more promising, they have won 5 of 7 first quarters, stepping away from their reputation for slow starts in 2020.
Four quarter consistency will be a focus moving forward but the season so far has already seen individual improvement, building connections and moments of brilliance.
The defensive combination of Karla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni has become even more formidable in 2021, with the two South Africans tied in 4th for total intercepts in the league.
The defenders are not just receiving praise internally, having both been named Player of the Match at least once each so far this year.
Add in Kate Shimmin as a point of difference and the depth of Lightning begins to shine through.
Laura Scherian stands equal first for centre pass receives (146), despite spending stints wearing the centre bib herself.
Add in the 176 feds and 113 goal assists while acting as the conduit between the midcourt and attack and her influence becomes clear.
While new addition Mahalia Cassidy has taken the reins at centre, both Scherian and Maddy McAuliffe have shown composure and flair when given their opportunities.
McAuliffe saw reward for effort in Lightning’s second game against Melbourne Vixens, credited as Player of the Match for the first time in her career.
Her ability to sway the game and take control while wearing the centre bib in later rounds illustrates how far her game as developed since joining Lightning in 2017 as a fresh-faced debutant.
Within the goal circle, the complimentary styles of Cara Koenen and Steph Wood continues to challenge opposition defenders.
Koenen has extended her purple patch from last season and ranks 5th in the league for total goals (245).
While regularly contributing to the score line, it’s Wood’s leadership and smarts that have stood out this season, linking up with the midcourt to create more dynamic structures – confident that Koenen can hit the scoreboard when delivered the ball.
Binnian Hunt’s use at Wing Attack has also been an exciting development for Lightning’s temporary replacement player – using her size and strength, as well as her knowledge as a shooter to her advantage.
Peace Proscovia’s performance in Round 7 against Giants netball, shooting 16 goals straight saw a return to what Lightning Members and fans know she is capable of, and a continuation of that form in the second half of the season will bode well.