Lightning takes aim at Super Netball's show-piece event
NETBALL: The Sunshine Coast is just one win away from realising a dream maiden campaign in the national league, after edging Melbourne in the major semi-final.
The Lightning upset the minor premier Vixens 56-55 at Margaret Court Arena in Victoria to earn a berth in the decider, to be held at Brisbane Entertainment Centre on June 17.
Star shooter Caitlin Bassett was elated and said the team was already eagerly anticipating Super Netball's show-piece event.
"It's very exciting. When we realised it's going to be a home grand final for us and we'll get the week off, that was a pretty big moment," she said.
"But now the focus is on what we need to do to be in the best possible shape to take out that grand final."
For Bassett, the chance to win a premiership is a particularly welcome one.
An established player on the international stage, she had previously played in just one finals series in 12 years at a professional club level, while based in Perth.
"It has been elusive in my career, getting a domestic grand final win and it's one of the reasons I moved to the Sunshine Coast, for the opportunity to do that," she said.
"Last year I sat at the grand final and watched Firebirds and Swifts fight it out and it's definitely tough watching other teams do it so to have the opportunity to do it this time is pretty amazing and the group of girls we've got definitely has the capability to win."
The Lightning will meet the winner of the preliminary final between the Vixens and the Giants.
The decider will be played at Boondall, instead of the club's traditional base.
"We would love to have it at USC (University of the Sunshine Coast), which has been our home all year but we understand we can fit more people into the Brisbane Entertainment Centre," Bassett said.
"It's really exciting that our friends and family and all the supporters who have helped us get to the grand final can come along and watch us and that's going to be massive for us."
The Lightning finished the regular season in second place but proved too good for the Vixens on Saturday.
Bassett bagged 44 goals from 47 attempts and goal attack Stephanie Wood chimed in with 12 goals from 14 attempts.
Laura Scherian, Laura Langman and Kelsey Browne provided plenty of impetus while Geva Mentor and Karla Mostert kept Vixens scorers Mwai Kumwenda (33 of 38) and Tegan Philip (22 of 26) relatively quiet.
Scores were locked at 13-apiece after the first quarter but the Vixens snatched a 26-25 advantage at the main break.
The host forged to a five-goal lead during the third term and led 42-40 at three-quarter time.
But the Lightning rallied in the final quarter under pressure to earn a four-goal lead of its own.
A late Vixens fightback just fell short.
It's been a highly-impressive season by the Lightning in its first ever campaign, dropping just two games in 15 outings under the guidance of respected coach Noeline Taurua.
The Lightning will meet the winner of the preliminary final, which will be contested in Melbourne on Saturday, between the Vixens and the Giants.