THE 2021 Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season has come to a close with the focus now on the off-season and next year. Draft Central takes a look at each teams respective season with the first team under the microscope the Melbourne Vixens.
It was always going to be a difficult year for the Vixens, who had to replace the gaping hole left by the retirement of Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip. But they were handed an even bigger blow prior to the season commencing with Liz Watson ruled out for the season with a foot injury. This caused some reshuffling amongst the ranks and a little bit of a disconnect in attack for the former reigning premiers. The addition of Rahni Samason midway through the season as an injury replacement paid dividends with the young goaler leading the Melbourne Vixens to one of their two victories and while they came close in other games simply could not hold on for long enough to seal the deal.
What worked well?
Although the ladder did not reflect many positives out on court there were still plenty of high notes to take away from the season. Looking down in the defence end and there is no denying that the combination of Emily Mannix and Jo Weston was at its damaging best once again. The pair often moved as one solidarity unit and used their athleticism and read of the play to cause a ruckus which they did throughout the season, throw in the extra court time Kadie-Ann Dehaney got throughout the season and the Vixens looked solid in defence. The trio proved they were more than capable of getting hands to ball and causing turnovers with their silky movement and overall court craft to mount pressure.
What went wrong?
With a couple of new faces in the attacking end it was hard for the Vixens to really hit their stride and hit the highs of the 2020 season. Even though Mwai Kumwenda was a rock under the post for the Vixens both Kaylia Stanton and Ruby Barkmeyer struggled to fill the shoes of Thwaites and Philip and put up a competitive total. Still young and developing, Barkmeyer took some time to get up to speed of SSN but showed plenty of glimpses of magic while Stanton worked on her craft out in goal attack despite being a goal shooter.
Most valuable player?
In a side calling out for experience and leadership in attack it is no surprise that Kate Moloney stood up to the challenge week in, week out. The Vixens captain was nothing short of a workhorse in the front-end with her give-and-go and overall vision into the circle. Shouldering more of the load inside the attacking third, given the absence of Watson, Moloney plied her trade around circle edge to be a constant option and alleviate pressure. Not only was she a force to be reckoned with in attack but so too in defence with her hustle and smarts to create deflections aplenty. Moloney was the heart and soul out on court, often inspiring her team and spurring them on with her never-say-die attitude.
Most improved player?
Thrust into the SSN after being named as a training partner, Hannah Mundy proved she has what it takes and has the makings of an exciting midcourter for the Vixens. Although it took her some time to work into the season Mundy found her new home in wing attack despite coming from a centre/wing defence background. As the year went on her confidence increased, with her strength around circle edge well and truly coming to the fore alongside her clever footwork and positioning.
Photo credit: SSN