Severn Stars’ Head Coach Melissa Bessell says her team will be looking for an error free performance to take victory in their first match of the Vitality Netball Superleague 2020 campaign.
Severn Stars face Saracens Mavericks in the Season Opener on Saturday (February 22), a day of matches involving all 10 teams at a packed Arena Birmingham. Stars play at 2.30pm.
Bessell said: “We need to stick to our game plan, our structures, and play like it’s our last game of netball we’ll ever play. Every team has been training hard, every team wants to win and be competitive, but ultimately it will come down to the team that makes the least amount of errors on the day. This is what we must ensure we do.”
“I definitely think that, with the high calibre of players in Severn Stars this season, the experience and knowledge, we have something special and I am very excited to watch us grow. However, it’s sport, and anything can and will happen. You can have the best players in the sport, but if we can’t do the basics very well, this is all out the window.”
Bessell said that Saracens Mavericks were going to be one of the top teams to beat this year. “Mavericks are a quality side and we have a lot of respect for them, as we do for all the other teams in the Superleague,” she said.
“They have an experienced, solid team this year. They have huge amounts of experience, especially with their England players, so, we are ready for a hard battle.”
Stars, a joint franchise between the University of Worcester and University of Gloucestershire which finished sixth in last year’s contest, have a side this season that combines new faces alongside returning Stars players. New Zealand star and Commonwealth gold medallist Liana Leota, England’s Commonwealth Games gold medal winning captain Ama Agbeze, Welsh internationals Nia Jones, Bethan Dyke and Georgia Rowe, Malawi international Towera Vinkhumbo, University of Worcester student Lucy Herdman, University of Gloucestershire student Ella Powell-Davies, Paige Reed and Lucy Harris are among Stars’ line-up.
“I am really excited,” said Bessell. “We have been training hard since before Christmas and I, and the players, really just want to get started now. Training has been of a high intensity and great quality. I have really changed things up this season, made things very different from my usual sessions and the girls have responded positively. We have created a new Stars ethos and everyone is responsible and accountable and I am loving it.
She added that the team’s pre-season performances had given her huge encouragement, partly because her imported players and Agbeze had not at times been available.
“It has given me some great data on the real depth of our team,” she said.
“Everyone has been given much more court time and we have been able to explore different combinations. However, the real bonus has been building our strong team culture.”
Severn Stars’ first home game of the season takes place on 29 February at the University of Worcester Arena against the defending champions Manchester Thunder, and tickets are available here.