Severn Stars 46, Surrey Storm 39
Severn Stars came out on top against Surrey Storm in an important game for both sides, who went into the match with an equal record.
Stars started well at London’s Copper Box Arena, turning over and converting Surrey Storm’s first centre pass. However, the game continued goal for goal with various errors from both teams. Surrey managed to bring things level and it was a physical battle for every ball, with no team able to gain an advantage. Stars’ defence of Dee Bolakoro and Lucy Herdman worked together to turn over ball, with just over a minute left of the quarter, allowing Stars to finish the quarter up by one, 12-11.
With six points from two wins each in the Vitality Netball Superleague season so far, and only one place between them, it was Stars who took advantage early on in a tight encounter. The team carved out a lead in the first two quarters and, though their opponents at times threatened a comeback, each time Stars pulled away for a third victory, 46-39.
There were no changes for either side going into the second quarter, demonstrating how tight the game was. Momentum swung in Storm’s favour following a held ball by Stars’ goal attack, Paige Reed. To combat this, Stars brought on young goal shooter Issy Eaton, who steadied the ship, sinking her first shot. Bolakoro successfully blocked a shot by Storm, but Stars were unable to convert this to a goal. However, Herdman also helped her team out by successfully collecting a rebound and this time Stars made no mistake. They went into the half-time interval ahead, 24-20.
Surrey Storm brought on Frankie Wells at goal attack, who had a positive impact, sweeping the front of the circle in one play and confidently feeding Storm’s goal shooter Karyn Bailey in another. This brought the score back to 26-24. But Stars’ mid-court players, newcomer Kyra Jones, at centre, and Nia Jones, at wing defence, responded by increasing the pressure on Storm on the circle edge, helping Stars pull the lead out to 31-26. The quarter finished with four goals still separating the sides, 35-31 to Stars.
Storm were able to get a turnover on Stars’ first centre pass of the quarter, but an offensive contact by their goal shooter prevented them from scoring. But a misplaced feed allowed Storm defender Alima Priest to intercept Stars’ feed to the circle, bringing the score back within two goals. Stars’ Captain, Liana Leota, seemed to sense the need for leadership in attack and fed controlled balls to Rowe, returning to the court for the final quarter, who was well positioned under the post. This attacking leadership and a strong end to the game by Herdman in defence ensured that the game ended in Stars’ favour, 46-39.
Player of the Match, Reed, said: “We are making sure that we trust the process, and as long as we are improving each session and each game and reaching our targets, we’re happy.”
Stars Head Coach, Melissa Bessell, added: “We stuck to the process. We knew it was do or die for us today. The changes that we made, the players that came on, made such an impact. I’m so proud of our courage, composure and belief.”
Stars, a joint franchise between the University of Worcester and University of Gloucestershire, next face Loughborough Lightning at the Copper Box Arena on Sunday, May 9, at 12pm. For more information on Severn Stars, visit the website www.severnstars.co.uk.
Photographs by Ben Lumley.