TWO players will make their Victorian Netball League championship division debuts when Ballarat Pride launches the 2013 season in Bendigo tonight.
Defender Emma Ryan and goal shooter Chelsea Ross both line up for UB Pride’s clash with VU Western Lightning.
Ryan debuts after playing with Ballarat’s 19-unders in 2011 and 2012, while Ross also played for Pride 19-unders in 2010 and 2011 then relocated to Melbourne where she joined tonight’s rivals.
Pride administrator Jordan O’Keefe said the club was fortunate to have a championship side consisting of steady heads and youthful ambition this season as it looks towards a more successful campaign than in past years.
“Captain Johanna Dash and centre court Lauren Atkinson will take to the court for their 10th year at a state league/VNL level,” he said.
“To see them playing alongside players that have been groomed through the 19-under ranks, where Pride have excelled, is a momentous occasion and reaffirms the unique culture of Pride with the long-term goals developing these players that were set in place over three years ago.”
O’Keefe said pre-season practice matches had been beneficial for the club.
“We had some good results and many positives come out of the pre-season matches in Melbourne, which allowed us to trial some ambitious combinations and ones that haven’t been possible in the past,” he said.
“The depth and flexibility of players in the current side have allowed coaches to really think outside the square and get even more out of the playing group.
“The players have responded remarkably well to trialing these changes and that in itself has the Pride camp excited to get the season under way.”
Tonight will also mark the return of head coach Jo Dash to the helm after a season away through health reasons.
The Pride versus VU Western Lightning fixture will be played at the Bendigo Stadium, with the 19-under game beginning at 3pm.
Division one will be played from 4.40pm, with the championship clash starting at 7pm.
The championship bout will be for the Bendigo Regional Cup.
Jess Abela, Vanessa Abela, Jordan Billings, Skye Billings, Kelly Conroy, Maddi Davis, Kathryn Dicker, Hayley Fidler, Mikaela George (Captain), Remeny McCann, Emily Atkins, Brianna Elliott, Jaime Palmer. Coach: Kerry Lightfoot. Assistant coach: Gary Cooke. Manager: Sally Kruger. Physio: Kylie McMahon.
Jordyn Bibby, Rachel Dovaston, Emma Farrant, Stacey Jeffrey, Samantha Karakinos, Stephanie Munro, Prudence O’Mahony, Sally Portbury, Katie Williams (Captain). Coach: Mark Melnikas. Manager: Lyn Portbury. Physio: Kylie McMahon.
Lauren Atkinson, Johanna Dash (Captain), Danielle Davidson, Kara Hart, Toni Lind, Chelsea Ross, Emma Ryan,
Emma Wright. Coach: Jo Dash. Assistant Coach: Daniel Cooke. Manager: Kaylene Trigg. Physio: Kylie McMahon.