ON FIRE: Lightning's Kelsey Browne earned MVP honours during the Sunshine Coast's 75-44 victory over the Adelaide Thunderbirds.
ON FIRE: Lightning's Kelsey Browne earned MVP honours during the Sunshine Coast's 75-44 victory over the Adelaide Thunderbirds. DAVID MARIUZ

A big finals storm brews as Lightning remain in the hunt

NETBALL: A 31-goal demolition of the Adelaide Thunderbirds has not only boosted confidence among Lightning ranks but sent a clear message to the competition, assistant coach Kylee Byrne says.

The Sunshine Coast earned the maximum eight points in their round 12 battle on Sunday after toppling the Thunderbirds 75-44.

It was the biggest victory of any side in the Super Netball season to date.

Byrne said it was pleasing to see the Lightning not only stick to the game plan throughout four quarters but to execute it to precision.

"We talk and talk about winning games by a lot and pushing out the lead and building momentum through the game and - although it was against a team that is coming eighth - it meant a lot to us to be able to deliver on what we've talked about as a group for so long,” she said.

"Leading into Swifts next weekend, which is another must win but also one where we have to pick up as many points as possible, it just gives us so much more self-belief and confidence.”

She said the win not only buoyed attitudes within the club but had stoked the fire to make finals.

"I think it sends a pretty clear message about what the next few games mean to us and we want to be there come finals time and we know that if we're in there and put out a display like we did today that we should be able to beat anyone,” she said.

The Lightning dominated from start to finish at Priceline Stadium.

They forced 31 turnovers, intercepted the ball 12 times and enjoyed 56 per cent of the possession.

Centre Laura Scherian was one of many stand-outs with 25 assists and three intercepts while wing attack Kelsey Browne earned MVP honours with her dominance across the court.

With the Lightning leading 58-32 at the end of the third quarter, regular starters Caitlin Bassett, Geva Mentor and Madeline McAuliffe were substituted for Cara Koenen, Jacqui Russell and Erena Mikaere.

"To get all 10 out on court was even more special and they just picked up to where we left off and still wining that last quarter by five goals (was great),” Byrne said.

"We were particularly impressed with Cara Koenen and the fact she had 17 attempts at goal in her first goal shooting appearance.

"And Jacqui Russell just showed again why she's pushing for a starting seven spot and Erena Mikaere did her job at the back so we were very happy with the three that came off the bench.”

The match was also Lightning goal attack Steph Wood's 50th appearance in the national league.

Lightning will take on NSW Swifts at USC Stadium next week and Byrne said it was vital they earn maximum points from that clash.

It's the second-last regular fixture of the season for the Coast, who are hunting the top four to make finals.

After victory in Adelaide the Lightning sit on 55 points, level with Firebirds, but goal percentage has them in fifth spot.



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