Monash pushed and pushed but ultimately came up short, falling to UB Ballarat Pride by 10 goals on Wednesday night at the State Netball & Hockey Centre.
Central faced an uphill battle all night, yet started the match exceedingly well with Ramayer Gourley nailing her first four shots.
Like previous weeks, her stint in the goals was short-lived, when Monash called a mid-quarter time out and swapped Gourley to the defensive end to counter the Pride’s tall, accurate shooters.
In partnership with Alice Ditchfield, the pair combined beautifully to restrict the Pride ever truly putting Monash away.
After 10-15 first quarter, the Pride threw away opportunities to extend their margin while Monash’s goalers Natalie Billings and Rhys Carter-Coleman took theirs to bring the deficit back to three.
However, it became Monash’s turn to fall back into bad habits with audacious passing, as Pride blew the lead out 8, before another late surge by Central saw the quarter concession even up; the score 20-25 in Prides favour at the long break.
The third quarter saw arguably Monash’s best netball of the season, if not in recent weeks.
Monash looked to have winners all over the court, with Wing Defence Tayla Kearns fantastic in shutting down her opposition and predating on every loose ball.
Jamie Collins was her usual lively self and found some excellent avenues of supply for Billings (24 from 29) and Carter-Coleman (15 from 21) to convert.
The work of goalers couldn’t be underestimated as both girls fed each other goals at regular intervals to win the quarter 12,-9 and bring score back to 34-37.
Yet, slightly undermanned on the bench, tired legs and mental fatigue kicked in as the Pride ran away with the win, capitalising on Monash’s mistakes and converting their scoring opportunities to win 53-43.
Monash Assistant Coach Sharon Hook told monashuniversitycentral.com.au, that after the confidence taken from last week’s performance against the ladder-leading City West Falcons, tonight’s match wasn’t totally out of left-field.
“Mentally, the girls were really up for the challenge and for three quarters, we really pushed the envelope to get into a winning position,” Hook said.
“We got tired and the game plan, which we’d executed really well In the first three quarters, fell away and as a result, we probably lost by more than what we should have.
“Our passing options fell away and what we stuck to before…we just weren’t able to carry it, especially in that last ten minutes.”
Despite a lean win-loss record for the season, Hook said the side were maintaining a positive approach for their remaining matches of season 2013.
“We took a lot of confidence from the way we finished last week,” Hook said.
“That can’t be underestimated. We went in with a positive mindset and I think we’re quite disappointed that we couldn’t grab this one tonight.
“We’ve got five games left and realistically we should be looking to challenge wins in two or three of those. If we can come away with those, that’ll be a nice note to finish on.”
Monash face the second-placed Boroondara Genesis, next Wednesday night at the State Netball and Hockey Centre in a match that – on Monash’s recent form – shouldn’t be solely taken at face value.
FINAL SCORE: Monash University Central 43 def. by UB Ballarat Pride 53
MUC SCORERS: Natalie Billings 24 (83%); Rhys Carter Coleman 15 (72%); Ramayer Gourley 4 (100%)