SEVERN Stars improved on their debut performance in the Vitality Netball Superleague, despite suffering a 56-44 defeat to Loughborough Lightning on Saturday.
In front of thousands of fans in the competition’s Super Ten event at Birmingham’s Genting Arena, Stars put in a hard-fought display against a strong Loughborough side.
The Worcester outfit started slowly as they fell 13-6 behind in the opening stages, but with pressure from goal defence Becky Oatley and goal keeper Josie Janz-Dawson, Stars managed to close the gap to 15-10 at the end the first quarter.
Captain Laura Malcolm then moved to centre and Sophie Carter switched to wing defence entering the second quarter, but Lighting were starting to settle into the game and extended their lead to 23-13, with the help of seasoned Superleague goal shooter Peace Proscovia.
But towards the close of the second quarter, Stars upped their defensive pressure and put on an impressive attacking display to enter half-time nine points behind Lighting at 30-21.
Starting the third quarter with a lively spring in their step, Stars made the most of a series of turnovers to reduce the deficit to just five points heading into the final quarter.
The Worcester side’s momentum continued as an energetic Becky Tildesley replaced goal shooter Afeisha Noel, but Lightning’s experience showed as they thwarted late danger and pulled away to secure the win.
Assistant coach Sam Bird said: “I was really pleased with the performance against Lighting. Last week (against Surrey Storm) we were a bit frustrated with how we delivered on court.
“I thought we were much better against Loughborough, though. Our attacking play was good, we turned the ball over and we competed with a very strong side.
“The improvements we’ve made on court in just one week is really positive. It was good to have our captain Laura Malcolm back on court. I thought she made a big difference in the middle and led really well.
“Becky Oatley played very well in goal defence too, shutting down their goal attack and putting a lot of pressure on their shooters.”
Stars now prepare to host their first-ever game at the University of Worcester Arena this Friday when they take on Celtic Dragons (tip-off 7.30pm).