GISBORNE star Maddy Stewart has lauded the richness of talent in BFNL netball following her selection in the VNL Championship team of the year.
Stewart, who plays in the state competition with Melbourne University Lightning, was one of four Bendigo league players honoured with selection in VNL teams of the years.
Eaglehawk’s Ashley Ryan was named in the division one team, while Sandhurst’s Meg Williams and Kangaroo Flat’s Ruby Barkmeyer were selected in the under-19 team.
Stewart, who has been runner-up in the BFNL’s Betty Thompson Medal in each of the past two seasons, will lead the Bulldogs into second semi-final battle against Sandhurst on Sunday.
She described her team of the year selection as ‘unexpected’.
“I got a lot more court time this year – I was probably a little bit lucky the ANL season interrupted the (VNL) season a bit and I was able to get to play more,” she said.
“Probably a couple of people missed out on the team who were a bit unlucky, but it’s still pretty exciting.
“It was a pretty tough season for everyone with so many ANL players in and out.
“I was probably the only (Lightning) player to play in every game. It was a disappointing end for us finishing top and going out in straight sets, but personally I was happy with my own season.”
No one was happier than Stewart to see fellow BFNL stars Ryan, Williams and Barkmeyer selected in teams of the year.
“Meg and Ruby are both amazing players and it’s a massive accomplishment for them, and Ash as well,” she said.
“There’s so much Bendigo talent. Unfortunately there will be no VNL team for Bendigo next year.
“It’s a bit disappointing when there is so much strength in this league.”
Meg Williams and Ruby Barkmeyer are both amazing players and it’s a massive accomplishment for them, and Ash Ryan as well.Maddy Stewart
Meanwhile, Gisborne resumes its chase for a first A-grade netball flag since 2013 against Sandhurst at the QEO on Sunday.
The Bulldogs will carry plenty of confidence into the game following last weekend’s 10 goal qualifying final win against Eaglehawk last weekend, but will need to be at their peak to overcome the talent-laden reigning premiers.
Stewart believed little separated the two teams, with the ledger standing at one win apiece this season.
“It’s a massive game – in the last three or four years we’ve had a few draws with them, so we know it will always be a hard-contested, physical game, played in good spirit,” she said.
“We’re really looking forward to it, but we’re obviously going to have to turn it on to beat them.”