NORTH Central teams will be chasing success and this weekend’s Netball Victoria State Titles in Melbourne.
The region will field teams in all three divisions - open, 17-and-under and 15-and-under – with the tournament being staged at Eagle Stadium in Werribee.
Kangaroo Flat’s Sue Borserio, who last season coached the 17-and-under side, has stepped up to coach the open team, which will be captained by Colbinabbin premiership star Lou Dupuy, with Eaglehawk’s Ashley Ryan as vice-captain.
The team comprises a mix of five BFNL players and two each from the Heathcote District and Loddon Valley leagues.
An original 10-player squad will be minus Eaglehawk defender Zoe Davies, who has had to pull out.
Borserio, who will be backed by assistant coach Jayden Cowling, believed the squad’s versatility was its strong point.
“Jayden and myself are confident if needed we can move players from one end of the court to the other and still be a strong team,” she said.
“We have Lou Dupuy leading us in attack and she is also a formidable defender, the same as Amy Jackman, who is an exciting young defender, but also capable of playing goals.
“At our practice match against the 17-and-under regional side, I handed Mitiamo goal defender Tahnee Cannan the centre tag and asked her to have a go, and with a beaming smile and her normal no fuss manner she took the challenge on and killed it for her team.
“To be honest they're a remarkable group - they've taken on board my coaching style, my tips, my ideologies, and without question do everything I ask of them.”
After a first round bye, North Central will play a series of eight round-robin matches on Saturday, with semi-finals and the final to be played later that afternoon.
The 17-and-under and 15-and-under matches will be spread over two days, with finals to be played on Sunday.
Borserio believed the sheer volume of matches to be played and quality of opposition meant there were many variables that would affect the team’s success.
“Everyone plays to win, you give it your best and that's all you can ask of players,” she said.
“If I'm clever enough to get the correct combinations to gel then success will be ours.
“I'm not a Carol Cathcart of the coaching world, so I've got no magic tricks in my pocket, but I'm keen to showcase the North Central region’s talent and what I can say is that every member of our team is an honest and talented player in their own right.
“(White Hills’) Anna-Grace Close is an example of the talent we hold with her votes scored in HDFNL this year, and experienced players such as Jordan Macilwain, a 200 game player for Maryborough.
“We will be striving to win every game, that's for sure.”
Jika starts the tournament as reigning champions after its 18-12 win over North East last year.
The nine-team competition also features Barwon, Dandenong Valley, Elmer, Sunraysia, Two Bays and Western.
Borserio was all praise for her side’s leaders.
“Lou is like netball royalty, until try outs I had never watched her play a game, and after 30 seconds of seeing her I was smitten by her netball prowess,” she said.
“The girl oozes likability, confidence, a touch of arrogance and more than anything else she has a 100 per cent netball brain - she is the ultimate team player.
“Ash Ryan is the quiet assassin of the team, what I like most about Ash is she is a sponge, listens to coaching direction perfectly, and executes our team plan.”
Meanwhile, new South Bendigo coach Jannelle Hobbs will take charge of the 17-and-under team, which will be co-captained by gun Kangaroo Flat goal shooter Ruby Barkmeyer and Echuca star Bridget Byrne.
It was the 17-and-under team which last won a title for North Central in 2015.
“The team we have – on paper – is outstanding,” Hobbs said.
“We have a lot of girls, who have played A-grade and A-reserve, and some of who have played VNL, so they will be used to that high intensity.
“We’ve been training super-hard, have some great structures in place and the girls are all fired up.
“Our aim is to at least make finals, but if we perform on the weekend, they can really push for that title.”
The 15-and-under team is being co-captained by Sandhurst’s Piper Dunlop and Echuca’s Corey Drennan .
Open: Lou Dupuy, Jamie-Lee Clohesy, Jordan Macilwain, Ashley Ryan, Bridget Murray, Milly Wicks, Amy Jackman, Anna-Grace Close, Tahnee Cannan.
17-and-under: Ruby Barkmyer, Bridget Byrne, Olivia Cautley, Holly Doricic, Keely Hare, Bree Heiden, Georgia Lowther, Melinda Luke, Danielle O'Toole, Sophie Shoebridge.
15-and-under: Kayla Ashcroft, Hollie Davidson, Corey Drennan, Piper Dunlop, Lara Judd, Chloe Langley, Brielle O'Meara, Chloe Stone, Ruby Turner, Bella Westbrook.