Lightning took to the eighth round of the Netball Super League against a strong Surrey Storm side with both teams only losing one game in the season so far. But with Storm sitting at the top of the table Lightning looked to come out of the game with three points and secured the win whilst chasing Storm to the top of the league. The fixture also marked Nat Panagarry’s charity fixture at the Sir David Wallace Arena with both Lightning and Storm seeming strong in the warm-up.
Lightning had the lead after the first quarter with confidence seen early on from both teams and was shown through the cross-court action. Williams proved some key interceptions in Lightning’s defensive third along with Harvey's use of space which allowed the team to build strength in passing throughout the entirety of the court. As a result of this confidence, Storm’s defence began to feel the relentless pressure of Lightning’s attack particularly Odeogberin and Panagarry’s link-up play.
Long-range passing from Dixon proved to be vital for Lightning’s attack creating several goal-scoring opportunities around Storm’s defence. Also, Cholhok managed to effortlessly work her way around the Storm players to add yet more goals to her already enormous tally for the season so far. Both teams displayed a high level of communication to all positions on the court, but Lightning hoped to use the atmosphere of Sir David Wallace Arena and the support of fans to increase their lead further.
Q1: Loughborough Lightning 20 – 17 Surrey Storm
Into the second quarter and Williams continued her run of defensive interceptions from the first quarter as well as helping to create space from faster passes to the forceful attack of Dixon, Joseph and Cholhok. Storm met this defensive effort with a determined defence to keep the tempo and morale up on the court. There was also a noticeable confidence within the Storm team with multiple passes from defence to attack and Storm managed to apply significant pressure to decrease the score early on.
Joseph was responsible for commanding the central third along with Panagarry with the use of wide passing to lose the Storm defenders with constant gameplay. Dixon also continued her persistent quick movement and strong feeding of the ball to assist Cholhok. Within the arena, there was a continued stream of supportive cheers for both teams in addition to supportive team benches which lead to an electric atmosphere heading into the third quarter.
Q2: Loughborough Lightning 43 – 34 Surrey Storm
Hannah Williams entered the court at centre for Panagarry and her presence was immediately felt with key interceptions in the central third winning Lightning possession back to start another attack to the Storm goal. Williams also joined the team-wide effort to pass out wide which seemed to be a win for weaving the ball around the Storm players. However, Storm brought endless energy to believe that they could get back into the game as they fired at Lightning’s Harvey and Williams in defence.
Tension builds with a warning shown to Storm’s wing attack from the umpire highlighting Storm’s desire to win and claim the three points. Lightning ended the third quarter with a lead of thirteen goals and Odeogberin’s interceptions and communication with Joseph bring a confident Lightning into the final quarter.
Q3: Loughborough Lightning 62 – 49 Surrey Storm
The final quarter saw two changes for Lightning. Hannah Joseph exits the court at wing attack for Bella Baylis and Alice Harvey swapping for Zan Vimbela at goalkeeper to keep Lightning’s momentum to secure the win. Hannah William's space along the wide areas of the court and the quarter saw multiple turnovers in centre court so wide passes sought to be vital for controlling possession.
Lightning’s drive to win and continual passion for success saw them gain the three points and climb to second in the table with a team effort to be proud of whilst coming up against a strong Surrey Storm side.
Q4: Loughborough Lightning 73 – 64 Surrey Storm
After yet another win for Lightning Head coach Vic Burgess shared her thoughts on the team performance:
‘’They went out and did exactly what we asked them to do. From the first quarter and first whistle their intent and work rate, the way they backed each other up’’ highlighting Vic’s happiness with the team performance from the start.
Mary Cholhok was named Gilbert Player of the Match and commented on the:
‘’Great performance from the girls and it felt amazing to play tonight’’ with a huge smile on her face she was the most achieving player of the award after her prestige performance tonight.
‘’We had to sit back and remember what we wanted as a team. It was a collective performance as a team’’ as the team looks to build on the win and climb the table further in matches to come.
Rhea Dixon was named ‘Long Tall Sally’s’ Player of the Match after a dominant and stand-out performance.
Lightning are back in action in two days’ time on 27th March at the Sir David Wallace Sports Arena at 6 pm against London Pulse.
Tickets to Lightning’s 2023 home campaign are now on sale and can be purchased at: https://www.lboro.ac.uk/sport/performance/lightning/netball/fixtures-results/
GS: Mary Cholhok
GA: Rhea Dixon
WA: Hannah Joseph
C: Nat Panagarry
WD: Jas Odeogberin
GD: Fran Williams
GK: Alice Harvey