Lightning Learn From Each Opportunity

Thursday marked the first time Sunshine Coast Lightning’s team of 2021 stood on court together and will provide the foundation for the team’s build towards season proper.

While the Giants Netball clash saw Lightning still finding their feet, subsequent games against Melbourne Vixens and NSW Swifts provided an immediate opportunity to improve and implement new learnings.

Lightning shooter Cara Koenen joined Steph Wood, Karla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni in playing their first pre-season clash for the Club this year and said they would all be better for the experience.

“We came into this pre-season tour with limited prep, so it is information gathering for us at the moment to see how these connections are forming,” Koenen said.

“The more combinations we are able to form now gives us more options in the season and it will make us more of a threat to each of our SSN opponents.

Photo: May Bailey / Netball Scoop

“We’re seeing what we can get out there and do – how we can build on the strengths and the game plan that’s been put in place by the team in earlier pre-season games.”

Lightning defeated Vixens 62-47 on Friday, and while the team is not putting huge stock in the scoreboard result, their ability to win each quarter and maintain momentum was pleasing.

“We’ve all got white line fever, whenever we step out on court we want to put our best foot forward for selection,” she said. 

“That said, we’re not outcome focused at the moment, each new quarter is back to a level playing field.”

Koenen said there were clear improvements between the three games, with a focus on building connections and playing a consistent brand of netball across the four quarters.

“We wanted to build on our performances and there was patches of brilliance, there were some really nice plays through attack and we turned over some good ball in defence as well,” she said.

“It was just that consistency that was lacking and we wanted to step that up across those four quarters.

“Overall, we built on our performance. There’s promising signs but there’s still a lot to learn and a long way to go – which is exciting.”

On a personal level Koenen is focused on improving her connections with incoming player Mahalia Cassidy, who she previously played alongside of in Queensland Under 19s.

After a standout debut performance in the Constellation Cup for the Australian Diamonds, the 25-year-old is also focused on being a reliable target in the circle and hitting the scoreboard with every opportunity.

“I’m concentrating on forming a stronger connection with Mahalia, making sure I’m presenting a strong option to her and making sure I’m putting the ball to where she needs it around centre circle or at the centre passes because we haven’t played together in a long time,” she said.

“I want to be a consistent option across the full 15 minutes and turning to post and putting those shots up confidently.”