Spectacular derby beckons after Lightning nabs finals berth
NETBALL: A blockbuster Queensland derby beckons after the Sunshine Coast earned their place in the Super Netball semi-finals with a win over Melbourne.
The Lightning will collide with the Firebirds in Brisbane on Sunday, following their 56-51 victory over the Vixens in Victoria.
That match was essentially a battle for the last place in the four-team play-offs, amid an eight-team national league.
"It's exciting to get into the finals. We're rapt," centre Laura Scherian said.
"The Queensland derby will be awesome. What a spectacular semi-final to have for Queensland, with both of their teams in the finals. It will be a really good hit-out."
The Lightning are reigning premiers but Scherian said it was a new scenario.
"It's different teams and a different finals ... we'll definitely be looking at video analysis of the Firebirds.
"But at least we've had that experience with finals and we know what the feeling is going to be like."
That the Lightning claimed a place in the play-offs was something in itself.
They lost their first three matches of the season but then dropped just two of their next 11.
"We made it pretty hard for ourselves at the start of the season and in the back half of the season we've really had to put in some hard games and get those wins," Scherian said.
"It was pretty exciting that it came down to the Vixens game."
They showed some mettle against Melbourne, getting the better of their rivals in the second and third stanzas of the contest.
"I think we were pretty tough out there. We took a good hard knock a few times, lots of us, and just jumped back up and kept playing," she said.
"And we moved the ball and maintained possession and that's what we went out to do, so we're pretty proud of ourselves that we came away with those two quarters and a win to top it off."
But she was frustrated by their finish to the game, when they missed an opportunity to claim another bonus point and a chance to host the minor semi-final.
"Definitely that last quarter was disappointing ... we wanted to win the three quarters so we'll definitely be looking at that quarter and going over it.
"It's about maintaining possession and not letting those turnovers happen in those critical moments."
Scherian has some history with the Firebirds having made her elite club debut there.
"It's pretty old history, about eight years ago, so it wouldn't matter who I was playing against (this weekend)," she said.
"I want to go out there and win this weekend with the girls and for the Sunny Coast and the club.
"We're ready to go out there next weekend against Firebirds and put on a good show for everyone on the Sunny Coast."
The Giants secured the minor premiership and will host the major semi-final against the Fever on Saturday, after beating the same team 69-66 in the final round of the regular season.
The Giants were beaten by the Lightning in the decider last year.