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Loughborough Lightning top Netball Superleague after Super Saturday

Loughborough Lightning got their 2016 Vitality Netball Superleague campaign off to the perfect start on Super Saturday as they secured a convincing 65-34 victory over Yorkshire Jets to go top of the league.

Taking place at the Genting Arena in Birmingham, Super Saturday saw all eight teams in action, with Sky Sports showing this celebration of netball live for over eight hours.

To a thunderous cheer from the 8,000 strong crowd inside the Genting Arena, Sasha Corbin got the game underway for Lightning and within 12 seconds Peace Proscovia had put the team in purple in front, which set the tone for the first quarter.

Jets, playing in pink, battled hard over the first few minutes to peg Lightning back, but by half way through the first quarter Lightning were firmly in the ascendancy. Ugandan star shooter Proscovia was in scintillating from, scoring time after time to see Lightning start to build an ever growing lead.

After 15 minutes the hooter sounded to end the first quarter, but due to yet another foul from Jets goalkeeper Vanes-Mari Du Toit, Proscovia was able to bag another goal to leave the score 15-9.

A string of fouls by Jets at the start of the second quarter saw the goals come thick and fast for the attacking duo of Proscovia and Walker, and accurate shooting took the score to 19-9 inside three minutes. As the quarter progressed it became ever clearer that Jets couldn’t handle Proscovia’s aerial presence, which was being used to great affect thanks to the pin-point passing of England duo Hannah Joseph and Sasha Corbin.

It wasn’t just in attack that Lightning were dominating though, as Agbeze and Trip kept Jets at bay, whilst captain Clarke, back in Loughborough colours for the first time in six years, called the shots from wing defence. The scoring may have slowed, largely due to the two sides being unable to maintain the furious first quarter tempo, but Jets just couldn’t penetrate the Lightning defence.

As the quarter wore on, Agbeze and Proscovia were beginning to stand out for their athleticism and reach at either end of the court, meaning the score continued to move in Lightning’s favour. At half time, the scoreboard read 28-13.

Substitue Natalie Panagarry got the third quarter underway for Lightning, which saw a slight reshuffle, with Sasha Corbin moving to WA and Panagarry playing centre. It didn’t alter the momentum though, as Lightning bagged a quick brace.

Time and time again, Trip and Agbeze broke up the Jets attack, allowing Clarke and Corbin to link up and start yet another Lightning move. Typically they ended with another point on the board thanks to Proscovia or Loughborough University MSc student Vanessa Walker.

Half way through the third quarter Proscovia extended the Lightning lead to 20 points, and barring disaster there was only going to be one result in this second match on Super Saturday. 47-25 was the scoreline at the end of the third quarter.

Once again Lightning were straight on the score sheet at the start of the fourth and final quarter. Another reshuffle saw debutant Jo Trip make way for another debutant Rachel Sweet, who took on the GD bib with Agbeze moving to GK.

With Lightning continuing to increase their lead, it was announced over the tannoy that Loughborough University graduate Ama Agbeze had seen her defensive master class rewarded with the man of the match award.

Were it not for Jets captain Stacey Francis making some ‘Agbeze-esque’ interceptions, the score would have continued to rack up in Loughborough’s favour, but as it was the game ended Loughborough Lightning 65, Yorkshire Jets 34.

After the game, man of the match Ama Agbeze commented:

“I’m really pleased with my performance today. After last week at the international series and now today [getting man of the match] I think I’m going to retire!!”

Head Coach Karen Atkinson was equally pleased with the outcome:

“In terms of the result it was a perfect start but I think there’s still a lot to work on. I thought we put a lot of goal third defensive pressure on them and actually thought we brought the ball through the centre third really well. In the final third I think we need to ensure we don’t just look to Peace and just launch it in every time.

“Ama got a lot of hand to ball today, which was brilliant and I think Peace always stands up to the challenge, takes the hits and puts the shots away. But I think there were a lot of really good passages of play from everyone today.

“The team is still really new and Olivia [Murphy] and I have said this is just a starting point, so it’s great that there was a lot of really good stuff out there today, but also plenty to work on.”

Lightning travel to Hertfordshire Mavericks next Saturday before returning to the David Wallace Sports Hall to take on Celtic Dragons in their first home game of the season. Tickets for that game against Dragons and the home game against Manchester Thunder two days later can be bought here: www.loughboroughsport.com/loughborough-lightning/tickets 

Starting Seven:
GK – Jo Trip
GD – Ama Agbeze
WD – Jade Clark ©
C – Sasha Corbin
WA -  Hannah Joseph
GA – Vanessa Walker
GS – Peace Proscovia

Substitutes
Harriet Gill
Lauren Massey
Natalie Panagarry
Rachel Sweet

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