We are the champions

THE Gippsland League enhanced its reputation as one of the most powerful regional netball competitions in Victoria at Sunday’s Regional Victorian Netball League Champions Challenge.

The league’s representative teams shone on the big stage, securing two of the three titles on offer, from three grand final appearances.

The 15 and under team kicked off the day with a 55-36 win against Echuca and District Netball Association at Whitten Oval, before the 19 and under team fell just short against Albury Netball Association 62-53.

Coach of the 15 and under team Jo Ballinger said her side’s determination, team work and calm, controlled play was the key to victory.

“Our young defensive team dominated the circle and our shooters shot at 90 per cent with the centre court players feeding the goalies extremely well using their vision and drive down the court,” Ballinger said.

“As a coach I had confidence in anyone taking the court and we are very proud of the girls’ achievement.”

Over at Hisense Arena, the league’s all-conquering open team made it back-to-back titles with a 48-40 win against Ballarat Football Netball League in a curtain raiser to the ANZ Championship clash between Melbourne Vixens and Northern Mystics.

Open coach Kate French said beating a strong Ballarat team two-years-in-a-row added to the achievement.

“We went in last year not really knowing what to expect and we thought Ballarat would come out even harder this year to beat us,” French said.

“Last year we were so excited I think we spent more time taking photos than preparing for the game so I really focussed on getting the warm up right and I think we led by about 10 goals for most of the game.

“Collectively the girls jelled really well and they were really excited to be playing at Hisense which is a great opportunity that doesn’t come along very often.”

Teams qualified for the Champions Challenge by winning their region’s RVNL title in pre-season.