Lightning set to hit stride in finals after edging Giants
NETBALL: The Sunshine Coast stamped its premiership credentials with a stunning win over Greater Western Sydney on Saturday but the best is yet to come, according to assistant coach Kylee Byrne.
The Lightning produced a tenacious 56-55 performance in the last-round clash at Qudos Bank Arena to edge the Giants for second place on the eight-team ladder.
The reward is a double life in the play-offs and a berth in the major semi-final, against minor premier Vixens in Melbourne.
And Byrne expects the side to be even better during the pointy end of the season.
"We still believe we haven't hit our straps," she said.
"You probably haven't seen the best of us yet. We're still looking for four quarters where we walk off and know we've dominated with our best netball.
"The general feeling from last night was 'look out, we're going to go to a whole new level next week."
If the Lightning can improve on Saturday's showing, that would be something special.
The Round 14 encounter had finals-type intensity and an atmosphere to match, with about 12,000 fans on hand. It was a physical clash, which left three Lightning players bloodied.
The Lightning trailed by one at the first change but carried a four-goal lead into half-time.
Scores were level at the last change and then the Sunshine Coast trailed 53-49 with five minutes remaining.
But a stunning burst in the dying stages, largely on the back of a Laura Langman intercept, saw the visitors clinch a memorable win in its inaugural season.
"World-class players come up with the ball when you need it and she certainly delivered in that situation for us."
She lauded the team for its performance under pressure.
"That was finals level netball," Byrne said.
"Even when we were four goals down at the end they still believed they were going to win it. That confidence is there but they knew they still had to work really hard for it."
Caitlin Bassett (39 goals from 41 attempts) and Stephanie Wood (17/22) produced strong performance amid stifling defence while defenders Geva Mentor and Karla Mosters kept the likes of Kristina Brice (22/25) and Jo Harten (24/27) on their toes.
Should the Lightning beat the Vixens (Saturday, 4pm) it will host the grand final in Brisbane.
If the Lightning loses, it will host the preliminary final, against the winner of the minor semi-final involving Giants and Magpies, at Sippy Downs.