Melbourne Vixens coach Simone McKinnis has backed her side to maintain their belief as they prepare to challenge NSW Swifts for a spot in the Super Netball grand final.
The third-placed Vixens appeared vulnerable heading into Sunday’s minor semi-final against Collingwood Magpies at the State Netball Hockey Centre after closing the regular season with three losses in a row.
But the Vixens rediscovered good form at the right time to eliminate their cross-town rivals 62-49 and advance to a preliminary final clash with the Swifts.
“Each time we have played them, they have come off a loss to the (Sunshine Coast) Lightning and are always ready to go,” McKinnis said about the Swifts, winners of both meetings with the Vixens during the regular season.
“I just think it’s a fantastic challenge and would love nothing better than to go up to Sydney and give it a real shake.”
The Swifts were no match for Lightning in Saturday’s major semi-final, the two-time defending champions flexing their muscle in the middle quarters to win 58-48 and qualify for the championship decider.
Like the Swifts, Collingwood had also defeated the Vixens twice during the regular season but as the Vixens demonstrated on Sunday, previous results are irrelevant when it comes to a winner-take-all finals clash.
“We will pull out what we need to from this, the good and not so good, because there are still areas that we want to improve on,” McKinnis said.
We’ve got to turn to Swifts and really have a look at the two games that we’ve played and come up with our game plan heading into next weekend – it will be a bit of a process.’’
McKinnis was pleased with the way her side bounced back from the previous week’s effort against the Magpies to dominate the elimination final, a match they controlled from the outset by shutting down Collingwood’s options in attack.
“The bottom line is at the start of the week, we are in finals and we’re going for it, so I thought we did that really well,” McKinnis said about the Vixens’ mindset.
“Last week was tough but when I woke up on the Monday, I was excited there was a way that’s there and we’re going to do it and I felt it all week.”
Despite the season-ending defeat, Magpies caretaker co-coach Nicole Richardson felt the club took a giant step forward by fighting through the loss to injury of Madi and Kelsey Browne to qualify for the finals.
“It has been a tough road for us, so from a club perspective we are very proud of what we’ve achieved. It was disappointing that it finished this way,” Richardson said.