Round Robin Hitout To Keep Lightning On Their Toes

Sunshine Coast Lightning will need to show adaptability in their second practice match of the pre-season, when they go head-to-head with QLD Suns Men and USC Thunder in a Round Robin hitout.

The trial game will test the side’s ability to combat differing styles of play in each quarter as they continue to strengthen their on court connections.

Midcourter Maddy McAuliffe said she was excited for another competitive match to show their wares.

“It will be unique rotating between playing the men and the Thunder,” McAuliffe said.

“What will be interesting and a challenge for us is mixing up our style depending on how the other teams are playing.”

“Obviously the men are more aerial and a lot more physical, so our style of play has to change quite a bit, whereas Thunder are more traditional.”

Last week’s clash with Queensland Firebirds provided an initial opportunity for Lightning to get out on court in a competitive environment, as pre-season preparations shift towards more match play.

“It was good to get a glimpse of what the combinations on court will look like,” she said.

“We were very raw last week against the Firebirds, we haven’t done a lot of on court strategy yet, so it was nice to just see what came naturally to us and see what our style of play will look like this year.

“We have different players and a mix up through the midcourt now, we want to see what that will look like for us and how individual players will bring their own strengths to the team.”

Lightning’s new additions in Mahalia Cassidy and Kate Shimmin were solid on debut and will be eager for more court time this week to further gel with their teammates.

Head Coach Kylee Byrne has a clear expectation of her players heading into Thursday’s match. 

“The Queensland Suns have been real supporters and opponents for us and it gives us that real physical side to our sport,” Byrne said.

“I want to see what our girls can do under pressure, coming up against bigger bodies and faster athletes.

“Can we be smart enough to adapt to what they can throw at us?

“We will keep rotating teams on and off the court every time period, integrating the three teams. It will be a good evening.”

The game will also provide an exclusive opportunity for select USC Netball Academy players to earn court time against Lightning athletes, as part of the elite development pathway.

“Having the Thunder team and pathway athletes there is also exciting. It’s important for them to see what this pathway is and what they can achieve,” she said.

Lightning’s 2020 Pledge Members were exclusively invited to the match, allowing some of the Clubs most loyal fans a speak peek ahead of Season 2021.