Severn Stars Captain Expecting Goal for Goal Encounter Against Storm
Severn Stars Captain, Liana Leota, is expecting a “goal for goal” close match this weekend against Surrey Storm that could be a fight to the last whistle.
Stars will be taking on Storm, who sit only one place above Stars in the table but are on equal points, in the Vitality Netball Superleague at London’s Copper Box Arena on Saturday (May 1) at 2pm.
Leota, who has just returned to the squad after injury, said the game could go down to the wire. “It’s an opportunity to grind out a victory, but we must understand those critical moments and momentum shifts,” she said. “There’s only going to be a few in a game so it’s going to be who can stay engaged for 48 minutes, as well as sink their own goals. They probably want it as much as us so it’s going to be a fight to the end. I anticipate it being close – it’s going to be goal for goal.
“We have to know it’s going to be a fight. We have to stay engaged; we need to understand when to turnover ball and when to score and get it down to the hoop. It’s a game we can definitely take, but we have to earn the right to win that game.”
Storm come into the match off the back of a closely fought contest against London Pulse that they lost by just two goals. “Storm played well in their last game and lost in the last couple of minutes against Pulse,” said Leota. “Their defence end can turnover ball. With Karyn Bailey [goal shooter] at the back, she’s experienced and she knows how to control that end of the court.
“For us it’s just always about working as a team, in attack and defence, and doing our own jobs because one for one it’s going to be a huge battle. That’s one thing we have talked about is making sure we do our own job first. At times, due to helping others when they’re in need, we have not been doing our own job. We also need to give to our shooters more opportunities to shoot because our shooting stats are pretty good.”
Stars, a franchise between the University of Worcester and University of Gloucestershire, will be looking to bounce back after losses last weekend to Strathclyde Sirens and Wasps. Reflecting on the last few games, Leota said the team had been frustrated and were particularly disappointed about the result against Sirens. “It’s frustrating as our performances are not replicating training; we know how good we can be,” said the former New Zealand international. “There were moments where we could have closed that game and been goal for goal more, but we just weren’t clinical and in the critical moments, we made basic errors. It’s understanding when we’re in those moments and putting the foot down. We had a good run of 6-1 but then let our foot off the gas and let them back into the quarter.
“But that’s all going to come with experience, the longer we play together. The more matches you play, the more experience you have, the more you can adapt and know what’s happening. It’s really hard to simulate that in training because of the pressures of the scoreboard and playing teams you don’t know. The more times you are in those moments, the more you can recognize them. We’re against teams with combinations of 10 years together.”
Leota was out for nearly two months with a broken hand, helping in a coaching capacity, but made her comeback last weekend. “I love being back even though the result wasn’t what I wanted,” she added. “I really missed it and sitting on the sidelines not being able to help and make change was really testing. But I enjoyed the coaching side of it – being with Melissa [Bessell, Head Coach], it’s a different point of view, you see the game differently.”
Severn Stars netball franchise will join football and the wider sporting community taking part in a social media blackout from 15:00 BST on Friday 30 April to 23:59 BST on Monday 3 May in a show of solidarity against online abuse. We thank fans for their support.