Melbourne Vixens return to form

By Aimee Dawson

The Melbourne Vixens of old have returned to the court, notching their first win since round nine and knocking off top-of-the-ladder West Coast Fever.

The Vixens, who have suffered large defeats of 24 goals and nine at the hands of the NSW Swifts and Queensland Firebirds over the last few weeks, beat the West Coast Fever 56 – 48 in front of a packed Margaret Court Arena crowd.

Defence was firing from the beginning, with the two goal keepers; Geva Mentor for the Vixens and Josie Janz-Dawson for the Fever, menacing late in the first quarter, attacking the ball and putting immense pressure on the shot.

The defenders did not have all the glory, with the two goal shooters, Karyn Bailey for the Vixens and Caitlin Bassett for Fever both shooting at 92 per cent for the game.

The partners in the goal circle, Tegan Phillip and Natalie Medhurst, shot at 70 per cent and 76 per cent respectively.

The Vixens finished the first quarter with a three-goal lead, however by halfway through the second quarter, the scores were tied at 23 all.

The scores stood at 28 – 25 in favour of the Vixens at half-time, setting up for a thrilling final half.

Both teams made changes going into the third term, with Jo Weston for the Vixens taking place at goal defence for Bianca Chatfield, and Fever’s Erene Mikaere moving to goal keeper in place of Josie Janz-Dawson.

The moves created a change in momentum in the game, with the Vixens finally able to push the lead out beyond the three-goal lead.

By the end of the premiership quarter, the Vixens had a seven-goal lead.

A physical and scrappy final quarter saw many players engaged in clashes and hitting the floor multiple times.

By the end of the quarter, the Vixens were able to extend their lead by one, making it an eight-goal win for the home side and inflicting the Fever’s second loss of the season.

Vixens coach Simone McKinnis said the intensity and focus of the team through the game was important to the Vixens’ win.

“It was a really solid match from everybody from the start right to the end,” McKinnis said.

“It was about hitting that intensity and maintaining it.”

Vixens defender, Geva Mentor was back to her usual form, finishing with three gains, two intercepts and three deflections.

Mentor said the team gave their all in today’s game.

“We’ve got nothing to lose, we’ve just got to go out there and give it our all,” Mentor said.

“There’s a fine line between talking about believing… until we actually do it, then no one knows what it feels like.”

“I feel like today we said it and we believed it.”

The Vixens currently sit fourth on the Australian conference ladder, one spot out of making the finals.

Although an unlikely probability, the Vixens are still a mathematical possibility to make the finals, providing the third placing Swifts do not win another game for the year and the Vixens do not lose another game.

The Vixens take on arch rivals, the Swifts next week at Margaret Court Arena in a must-win game to keep their finals hopes alive.