Recap of last season
The Melbourne Vixens were 2022's minor premiers and looked ready to grab the trophy with both hands. But come finals, the team were unable to deliver. After facing the West Coast Fever at home, they then narrowly beat the Giants to secure their place in the grand final.
Over the preseason the team had a wide range of success in their games, meeting with the Thunderbirds (one-point loss), Firebirds (three-point loss) and the Lightning (win and a loss). It was against the Giants where the team dominated most, with a 23-point margin in Bendigo and seven during the Team Girls Cup.
Just this week it was revealed that Rahni Samason will once again miss a chunk of the SSN season due to injury. Whilst the injury is unrelated to any past issues, it isn't the first time Samason's season has been interrupted.
How can they improve
During the 2022 season, the Vixens were the most penalised team for contacts. They were also ranked quite highly for obstructions, centre pass breaks and gave away a significant number of turnovers. If the team can lower the amount of ball lost, they should be able to hold up against the stronger competitors.
The team also struggled with consistency throughout the season, with several close calls that saw them claw for the win. That being said, 2021 was a wooden spoon year for the Vixens, so the team did make dramatic progress in the span of 12 months.
Squad: Kiera Austin, Kate Eddy, Mwai Kumwenda, Olivia Lewis, Emily Mannix, Kate Moloney, Hannah Mundy, Rahni Samason, Liz Watson, Jo Weston.
Training Partners: Sharni Lambden, Ruby Barkmeyer, Maggie Caris, Gabby Coffey, Emily Andrew
As the 2023 team remains identical to 2022's, in a perfect world, this team should be able to get to finals once again. In addition to the SSN season, many of the team's key players have continued to build their connections in the international scene, with Austin, Moloney, Watson and Weston all training in the Australian Diamonds camp.
The stability and maturity are further shown in the entirety of the team, who have all stayed with the Vixens after 2022. Many of the players have spent multiple years together, allowing them to establish strong connections.
Although the Vixens were the minor premiers of 2022, having the same line-up in 2023 may make the team more predictable. Coach Simone McKinnis will have to change things up to keep other teams on their toes, likely with different combinations of players on the court.
In the past teams have worked out the Vixen's attacking strategy, completely shutting them down. If the team are able to switch things up when needed, they should be able to avoid being held up in the midcourt.
Throughout the 2022 season, we saw mid-courter Hannah Mundy get increased court time alongside Liz Watson and Kate Moloney. Although she mostly appeared at wing attack, she would also play in at centre.
Outside of SSN, Mundy had a fantastic netball season, named as the Australian Netball Championship MVP and received gold at the Fast5 tournament.
In the past Mundy has even played in wing defence, originally playing a more defensive role. As Kate Eddy, Jo Weston and Kate Moloney can all play WD, it is unlikely that we will see Mundy with the WD bib, but it is still an option to shake things up.
Once again, it's likely the Vixens come up second best to the ever-dominant West Coast Fever. Although the Vixen's cohort will have another preseason under their belt, the Fever look too dangerous.
Right from the get-go the Vixens will be tested against the defending champions, setting the tone for their 2023 season. Tune in on Sunday to watch this highly anticipated match-up!
Before you move on, why not give our Facebook page a like here? Or give our Twitter account a follow to keep up with our work here.