Beating the Melbourne Vixens, not dwelling on ladder position, commands the Sunshine Coast Lightning’s attention as they head into Sunday’s showdown with the competition leader at John Cain Arena.
Reaching the Suncorp Super Netball finals next month remains a possibility for Lightning despite falling to the bottom four in recent weeks.
Historically, teams have needed eight wins to secure a top-four finish but the density of ladder positions means six victories, and a strong percentage, could be enough.
“The narrative of only seven teams making it has motivated me. We were always in with a chance,” Coach Kylee Byrne said.
That carrot has not been a distraction, though, for Lightning who cannot afford to lift their eyes above who’s next on the fixture over the last three games.
“We haven’t gone to that level (of detail). It’s still about performing this week,” Byrne said.
Lightning travel to Melbourne to face an in-form Vixens outfit that has in recent weeks downed the NSW Swifts and West Coast Fever.
Success at home for the Vixens would put them one step closer to the minor premiership.
Melbourne’s form does not intimidate Lightning who toppled the Vixens by 13 points, conceding just 14 turnovers when they last met at USC Stadium on April 16.
Lightning have found some rhythm of their own.
Their success in front of a sold-out crowd last week in Brisbane was the first time this season Lighting have won all four quarters.
That they did it with Captain Steph Wood missing the final quarter due to a knee injury and Kate Walsh on the comeback from illness was a sign of the group’s character.
Maddie Hinchliffe was part of the midcourt squeeze that treasured possession and made it difficult for the Queensland Firebirds’ transition.
“It’s lifted our spirits,” she said. “To put out a four-quarter performance is something we’re proud of.”
“We had the belief we’ve not had a great season and wanted to change the storyline. It’s the collective belief that we could do better, and we are improving.”
Round 12 is the first week of SSN’s First Nations Round, with teams set to wear specially designed dresses featuring indigenous symbols and stories.