Local talent helps Victoria claim silver at National All-Abilities ChampionshipBy Aydin Payne
A local netballer has helped Victoria's All-Abilities side claim the silver medal at the Marie Little OAM Shield that was held in Brisbane less than two weeks ago.
Shepparton's Grace Dean was a member of the state outfit that went down to South Australia in the gold medal match by three goals.
Dean and her teammates enjoyed a stellar three days of competing — winning six out of eight games — and improved on the state's bronze medal win last year.
Victoria's silver medal finish follows finishing third for the past four years, after winning the tournament in 2013 and 2014.
Onlookers enjoyed a tense goal-for-goal contest in the gold medal match that ended with South Australia coming out on top 21-18 at the final buzzer.
Dean burst onto the scene in the second half, with her speed and pace in wing attack helping to connect the centre passes to the goalers.
The Goulburn Valley All-Abilities product enjoyed strong wins in the lead up to the final, with the speedster starring in Victoria's 36-5 win against Northern Territory and the 41-10 victory against the ACT.
Victoria's coach Naomi Linossier said she was proud of the efforts from her side in the gold medal match and across the weekend.
“I’m really proud of the team, the girls did an amazing job, they fought really hard and played some of the best netball they played all weekend,” she said.
“In the final they really took it to South Australia. We started really well and they’ve just come together nicely as a team.
“Everyone took to the court, so everyone was really a part of that gold medal match experience and to walk away with silver and go one better than last year was a really big achievement.”
Linossier also applauded the way the players conducted themselves throughout the tournament and highlighted their impressive sportsmanship.
“Just seeing how they grew as individuals over the weekend was really powerful,” she said.
“Their sportsmanship was through the roof and just amazing.
“The way they dealt with the wins and the losses and took it all in their stride and took the challenge head on was great to see.”
Meanwhile, fellow Shepparton talent Ella Kerrins got a taste of being in the Victorian squad in the lead-up to the Marie Little OAM Shield, as a member of the Victorian Development Squad.