VNSL 2022 Team Preview: Loughborough Lightning

REIGNING premiers Loughborough Lightning will once again be among the teams to beat in the 2022 Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) competition. The Lightning lost a few players to opposition sides, but picked up a huge signing in Fran Williams from Wasps to create a star-studded defensive circle. She joins fellow international and recruit Zanele Vimbela in the circle, in a side that not only has international experience, but plenty of upside.

In terms of departures, the Lightning lost five players over the off-season. Australian Samantha May was the biggest one, having played in the VNSL for eight seasons, previously at the Mavericks and Wasps before contesting the past two with the Lightning. Losing such a quality defender meant there was a huge hole to fill. That hole was filled by the inclusion of England Roses representative Williams, who will slot in without any issues.

Despite managing the 22 games for the Lightning in 2021 and holding down a defensive goal circle position, Jasmin Odeogberin headed off to London Pulse, whilst Annabel Roddy (Celtic Dragons), Lucy Parize and Lauren Nicholls (both Wasps) were the other departures. Joining Williams as an inclusion on the main list, Pulse’s Emma Thacker is a future star, having remained part of the Roses’ Under 21s squad. She is one of a number of young guns on the list, and made the move with the decision to study at Loughborough university in September.

Looking at the list as a whole, the Lightning’s wildcard up front is towering goal shooter, Mary Cholhok. Able to put a high volume of opportunities to post, she is the key target inside the goal circle. Rising talent Thacker will learn off both her, and Ella Clark. Clark is a completely different shooter to Cholhok, with her athleticism setting herself apart from Cholhok, though Clark still stands at 191cm.

The midcourt combination of Beth Cobden, captain Natalie Panagarry and Hannah Joseph is outstanding, with all three able to roll through the centre. Cobden will likely start at wing defence, with Joseph at wing attack, though the flexibility of Panagarry in particular, is able to cause headaches for opposition planning. Now with Williams joining Vimbela in the defensive goal circle, the whole starting seven is outstanding.


GS: Mary Cholhok
GA: Ella Clark
WA: Hannah Joseph
C: Natalie Panagarry
WD: Beth Cobden
GD: Fran Williams
GK: Zanelle Vimbela

Though the starting seven is strong, the one thing that stands out about the Lightning more than anything else is the depth coming off the bench. Alice Harvey at goal keeper, Suzie Liverseidge and Hannah Williams in the midcourt and Thacker in the front third are just some of the names, but the side bats deep. Ella Bowen is the other one in the main squad coming up from the Lightning juniors to earn a senior contract alongside fellow Roses Under 21s member, Thacker.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments