WESTERN Region open coach Stacey O’Sullivan says she is proud of what her squad achieved at Netball Victoria state championships.
The representative side finished third out of nine regions at the annual titles at the State Netball Hockey Centre at Parkville on the weekend.
Western lost to eventual champion Gippsland 23-17 in a thrilling semi-final which went to extra time after scores were locked 14-all at full-time.
O’Sullivan, who earned selection as a defender in the All-Star team, said she was “rapt” with the top-three finish. She said Gippsland played an overtly physical brand of netball in the semi-final which should have come under more scrutiny from the umpires.
“That’s not the way we play netball,” she said. “That was what I was really proud of, our girls didn’t resort to their tactics.”
O’Sullivan said she was most pleased with the way the playing group came together.
Terang Mortlake twins Jo and Lisa Couch and Camperdown teen Jaymie Finch handled the step-up well.
Holly Greene and Kate Burt were also prominent despite playing just a handful of matches during the winter.
O’Sullivan, Kate Foster, Kate Dobson and Emily Batt also took to the court on both days.
“We had three really young girls in our side this year. The Couch girls are both eligible for under 17s,” O’Sullivan said.
“The week leading up we had quite a few players pull out at the last minute and the Couch girls put their hands up and Kate Burt also did.
“She’d only played two or three games for the whole year and the same with Holly.
“If you look at what we were up against, we were pretty rapt with the way we went.”
O’Sullivan, who is retiring from representative duties, encouraged more open-age netballers to put their hands up to play. “All the girls who played the tournament absolutely had the best time,” she said.
“It’s such a long way and it’s a whole weekend but once people get down there they have a ball.”
The open netballers delivered the best result of the three Western squads which contested the championships.
The 17 and under and 15 and under squads finished ninth with identical records — six wins, seven losses and a draw.
South-west Victoria was also represented by the Warrnambool Stingers, which had three sides contest the all-abilities grades.
The Stingers’ Pink side placed third in pool A while the Blue side was third and the White side was fifth in pool B.
Warrnambool umpire Tina Parsons also took centre stage, earning the right to officiate the 17s grand final between Chisholm and Latrobe Valley.
Western Region liaison officer Marg Morgan said she was pleased with the squads’ commitment and efforts.
Morgan said the netballers, particularly the juniors, grew throughout the weekend, meaning the campaign was a success.