North Central's netball stars chase glory at V/Line state titles 

North Central netball region coach Janelle Hobbs believes this year’s strong line-up for the V/Line state titles can go all the way.

North Central missed the finals last season, but with plenty of talent and depth at her disposal, Hobbs is confident ahead of this weekend’s matches.

“The open team’s very strong, we’ve been training since mid-year, so we’re looking to go really well.  I think we’ve got a good chance. It’s a very strong competition down there,” she said.

The North Central team has adopted a professional attitude, including pool recovery after today’s games and the team will also have a masseuse on the sidelines.

With seven matches played over seven-minute halves at the State Netball and Hockey Centre today and four more games tomorrow before finals, Hobbs is concerned about player burnout.

“Last year we didn’t lose a game on the Saturday, but the players were really sore on day two. So this year we’ve put things in place for that, we’ve got more depth and we’ve got a masseuse coming down with us,” she said.

Four Bendigo Netball League A-grade premiership players from Eaglehawk – Brittany Eastman, Christie Rogers, Abby Gilmore and Heather Oliver – are in the North Central team.

Oliver and Kangaroo Flat’s Alicia McGlashan are set to provide a torrid time for opposition goalers, while Gilmore, skipper Rogers and Colbinabbin’s Olivia McEvoy, the Heathcote DNA A-grade best and fairest,  are dead-eye shooters.

White Hills’ versatile star Dannielle Sawyer, who was one of the team’s best last year, is able to play at both ends of the court, while Eastman, Flat’s Simone Butler and Gisborne’s Olivia Thomas will play in mid-court with support from McEvoy.

Only four of the 12 teams qualify for finals at the competition, with Hobbs expecting teams from the Western Victorian, Dandenong Valley and the Jika area of northern Melbourne to prove stiff opposition.

The North Central region includes Golden City, Bendigo-Strathdale, Bendigo, Heathcote, Loddon Valley, Maryborough, Castlemaine, Rochester, Echuca, Woodend, Kyneton and Deniliquin netball associations.

North Central’s 17-and-under side will be coached by Kangaroo Flat star Lauren Cowling, with Sandhurst’s Brooke Bolton and Flat’s Monica Wellington the co-captains.

Echuca’s Betty McCoomb, coach of the 15-under team, said the line-up had a great  mix of experience, height and talent.

North Central 17s team: Brooke Bolton, Sarah Nash, Maddy Keighran, Chloe Finnigan, Monica Wellington, Jess Mangan, Kelly McDonald, Carmen Dye, Laura Parkhill, Bronte Deary.

The 15s team: Bridget Murray, Delaynie Caldwell, Elley Lawton, Meaghan Lowndes, Dayna McGough, Abbey Ryan, Chelsea Sartori, Chloe Carr, Zoe Kennedy, Zoe Davies.

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