Ruby shines on VNL grand final stage

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YOUNG netball star Ruby Barkmeyer’s reputation as a big occasion player has been enhanced after another best-on-court performance in a grand final.

The 16-year-old was named player of the match following the Geelong Cougars’ 19-and-under Victorian Netball League grand final win against City West Falcons on Saturday night.

Barkmeyer powered the Cougars to a thrilling one goal victory with her trademark clutch shooting.

The Cougars won 55-54 after trailing 26-27 at half time.

Barkmeyer scored 32 goals from 44 attempts to be named MVP.

Her performance drew high praise from the head coach of the Cougars’ victorious championship division team Gerard Murphy.

“In the last four games she has been awesome, shooting three quarters to half of the goals for the team at 95 per cent,” he said.

“She bombs them from everywhere and it is such a confidence builder for the whole team.”

Saturday's player of the match award win was Barkmeyer's third straight in a grand final.

She was judged best on court in Kangaroo Flat's A-grade BFNL grand final triumph last season against Golden Square, and also in the Roos' 17-and-under premiership win in 2015.

Her career continues to go from strength-to-strength, with her first year in the VNL coinciding with her appearance with the Australian team at the Digicel Punjas International Secondary Schools Netball Challenge in Fiji.

The grand final could not have been more nerve-racking for Barkmeyer and her teammates, with the Cougars breaking a deadlock with mere seconds left on the clock to capture the premiership.

"It was similar to the first final against Falcons, we only won by one goal, so we knew it was going to be close again," she said.

"But we didn't think it would be just one goal again - it was good to get the win.

"The whole team was nervous, but we just supported each other as best we could, especially in the last few minutes when the crowd was really getting into it and were really loud."

Barkmeyer's selection in the 19-and-under team followed one season in the Cougars' development team.

The class shooter said she was grateful for the opportunity with Geelong.

"My coach Mel Savage is my school coach at Geelong Grammar as well," she said.

"I have a lot to do with Mel and my netball has improved a lot throughout the year with her help."

Barkmeyer, who will represent the North Central region at 17-and-under level at the State Titles in October, will now turn her focus to aiding Kangaroo Flat's finals campaign.

The Roos will start September with an elimination finals showdown against Eaglehawk in a fortnight's time.

Last season's BFNL rising star award winner was confident the Roos could give the finals a good shake if they get their full squad on the court.

"We have found it hard getting the full team together; obviously we had Zoe (Davies) and Alicia (McGlashan) leave and we had to fill their spots," she said.

Ruby Barkmeyer in action for Kangaroo Flat.

Ruby Barkmeyer in action for Kangaroo Flat.

"We've had a few injuries along the way, which have been annoying.

"But (coach Janelle Hobbs) has done well to keep things together. 

"If we can play well in the first final, we'll see where things end up."

Meanwhile, the BFNL had two players represented in the championship premiership decider, with Sandhurst's Heather OIliver and Gisborne's Maddy Stewart part of the Melbourne University Lightning team, which fell three goals short of DC North East Blaze in yet another thrilling grand final.

The Lightning led 22-21 at half time, with scores tied at 33-apiece at three quarter time.

Oliver was named the Lightning's season MVP.