THE Bendigo Strathdale Netball Association (BSNA) is on a high after its 15-and-under representative team qualified for next month's Netball Victoria Association Championships finals.
A brilliant performance at this month's Association Championships regional qualifiers in Bendigo ended with the BSNA emerging undefeated.
The team, coached by Alex Ingram and Belinda Pinner, won all seven of its qualifying round matches before defeating the North Central Netball Association 13-3 in its semi-final.
With no grand final played and the top two teams going through to the finals on Sunday, July 24, in Melbourne, the BSNA is ramping up its preparations for a showdown against Victoria's best 15-and-under teams.
Ingram said the 11-player squad was going from strength to strength, having now played three tournaments, including lead-ups to the qualifiers in Bendigo and Echuca.
She felt a semi-final loss to Ballarat at the Golden City Netball Association tournament in Bendigo on May 1 served as motivation for impressive performance at Echuca on May 22 and in the regional qualifiers on June 5.
"There were a number of areas we needed to improve on and going into the Echuca tournament a few weeks later the team was a lot more consistent," Ingram said.
"It was a nice achievement to win the Echuca tournament."
The BSNA team followed up with an impressive campaign in the wet and cold in the regional qualifiers, highlighted by tough wins over Central Murray (16-11), Echuca and District (11-10) and Sunraysia (9-8) and the semi-final win over North Central.
"All the girls contributed throughout the day and played the semi-final in the pouring rain," Ingram said.
"I couldn't have asked for a more controlled game of netball in the horrific conditions.
"It was a credit to all of them for a month of hard work and training."
Having lost only one game in its three tournament appearances, the squad is quietly confident its best netball is still to come.
"Absolutely, they can get better, it's just a matter of whether they can peak at the right time," Ingram said.
"BSNA has a very strong junior program, so I have no qualms about us going on to bigger things."
Ingram spared a thought for the association's 13-and-under team, which sadly bowed out in the semi-finals after being the benchmark throughout its three tournament appearances.
"I do feel very sorry for our 13-and-under team because they have been undefeated the whole way through, but unfortunately they copped the barrage of the rain and they got beaten by a goal," she said.
"It just happened to be the semi-final, so it was cruel.
"In all my years of netball, I have never played or been involved in a tournament with weather like that. It was pretty intense and just cold, wet and miserable.
"I think at the end of the day, our 15-and-under girls just peaked at the right time."
The BSNA 15-and-under squad: Lila Kelly, Harriett Whiteacre, Keira McQueen, Neve Pinner, Jaida Raco, Emma Keating, Claire McGee, Charlie Coghill, Lily Hope, Lucy Paton and Jordan Baker.
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