Stage set for final round blockbuster
NETBALL: The Sunshine Coast Lightning have set the stage for a blockbuster climax to their home-and-away season after an emphatic victory on their home court.
The defending champions received a healthy confidence boost to their finals hopes after not only defeating Swifts 61-51, but by garnering the maximum eight competition points on offer from the round 13 clash at USC Stadium on Saturday.
The result didn't secure their place in the finals-bound top four, but it's set the scene for a scintillating last round battle with Vixens to decide that fate.
Captain Geva Mentor was "impressed" with the performance of her side in their second-last outing of the regular season and relished the looming challenge Vixens would provide.
"It's good that we're actually on the road and we're more tight-knit as a group when we travel so I'm excited to get to Melbourne (next week) and get the job done," she said.
"We'll be eager to continue the momentum that we created here today and hopefully set ourselves up for a finals berth.
"(But) We know it's not going to be easy and we know that Vixens are probably hurting from last year when we sent them out in straight sets so they'll have a point to prove as well and it just sets it up for a really exciting battle," she said.
The Lightning had their home crowd bellowing at their loudest during their final home-and-away match at Sippy Downs during what was a gritty affair against Swifts.
They started the game strong but Swifts held control mid-way through the opening quarter following three consecutive goals from Sam Wallace.
It would be the only time the visitors held a lead in the match and a quick four-goal scoring spree from Lightning made it a short-lived one too.
Lightning continued their dominance in the second quarter and even stretched the gap out to 11 goals.
But, with six minutes left before the break, Lightning squandered plenty of attacking efforts and Swifts took full advantage by scoring eight goals to the host's two.
However, the Lightning were more than up for the tough tussle in the third and fourth quarters and a Caitlin Bassett goal on the buzzer capped-off what had been a determined display from the Coast outfit.
Mentor was impressed with the performance of her side, but admitted the second quarter lapse was something that needed to be fixed.
"It's amazing in this game now you think 10 goals on board and you can put a team away but at this level of competition it's just so easy for them to come back in those momentum shifts," she said.
"I think that's definitely one thing we need to address and if we're hopefully moving into finals we just can't let that happen so it's really important that we ride out every minute of every quarter."
Coach Noeline Taurua said earning the eight points had been "massive" and was pleased with the overall effort from her charges.
"A lot rides on these games and every quarter and every ball and I think that came out in the end with just the ability to execute under pressure," she said.
"It's all happy campers at the moment and we've got one more guaranteed game so we want to make sure it's as good as we can (make it) and whatever is going to happen will happen."