TCC team shooting for back-to-back titles tonight
NETBALL: The Cathedral College Open A team will look to cap an unbeaten season with victory in the Rockhampton District Secondary Schoolgirls Netball grand final tonight.
TCC will be out to defend its title against either Emmaus College or St Ursula's College, who were last night playing off for the remaining finals spot.
The A division final will be at 8pm at Jardine Park, with other divisions at 5pm and 6.30pm.
Coach Renee Williams said TCC was expecting a tough contest, no matter which team emerged victorious last night, but would go into the game confident after another impressive season.
"We're undefeated in the schoolgirls this year for the first time ever and the girls have worked very hard to achieve that,” she said.
"We've taken it game by game but our focus for the grand final will be defending our title.
"Our versatility is one of our greatest strengths; we have girls who can play a lot of positions and we can use that to match up well against the other teams.
"Six of our girls are in Year 12 so they're really keen to play their best netball as it will be their last-ever schoolgirls game.”
TCC will be led by inspirational skipper Lily Bartlem but will be without valued defender Tori Rouse, who was forced to withdraw as she battles a back injury she suffered playing for the Capricorn Claws under-19s late last month.
While Williams conceded that Rouse would be a big loss for the defending champions, she had every confidence in young gun Liezel Viljoen who will take her place.
"Liezel's got big shoes to fill but I am sure she can do it,” the coach said.
"She's been able to have some full games recently and has played some really good netball.
"She enjoys the challenge of a hard game and she and goal defence Laynii Hetherington have worked really well together.”
When tonight's final is over, TCC will turn its attention to another title defence - the prestigious Queensland Independent Secondary Schools Netball carnival in two weeks' time.
TCC won its first-ever QISSN title in spectacular style in Rockhampton last year and will be looking to repeat the performance in Brisbane.
But Williams says it will be a tougher assignment this year.
"We are confident but the structure of QISSN has changed. There's now 60 teams instead of 48 which means we will have to play 10 games instead of seven which is a big ask physically.
"There is no rest day this year either so it really will be a case of survival of the fittest.
"The girls are keen to do it again. They know how to win it but they also realise it's going to be harder this time.
"We will certainly be doing everything we can to have a real crack at it again.”
Other CQ schools competing at QISSN are Emmaus College, St Ursula's College, Rockhampton Grammar School, Rockhampton Girls Grammar School, Chanel College (Gladstone) and Marist College (Emerald).