GGS GIRLS WIN AGSV/APS NETBALL PREMIERSHIP

The GGS Girls' 1st Netball team clinched this season's AGSV/APS Netball premiership - the School's first since 2012 - with a 61-30 win vs Caulfield Grammar School on Saturday 4 August. The team finished the season with a record of 10 wins and one loss, with the sole loss coming in Round 1 vs Ivanhoe Grammar School when captain Elli Leydin (Yr12 A) and vice captain Ruby Barkmeyer (Yr12 Ga) were away representing Victoria. The girls finished the season on a ten-game winning streak, which included a crucial three-goal win in Round 8 against the previously undefeated Wesley College that ultimately decided the premiership.

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Back row (L-to-R): Sybila Keogh (Yr12 Cl), Nyah Furnari (Yr11 EM), Issy Atkins (Yr10 Cl), Melanie Savage (assistant coach), Di Honey (coach), Ashley Thornton (Yr11 Ga), Sophie Ward (Yr10 Cl), Grace Szepe (Yr10 Cl), Fleur McLachlan (Yr12 Cl). Front row (L-to-R): Ariana Luamanu (Yr10 A), Ruby Barkmeyer (Yr12 Ga, vice captain) Elli Leydin (Yr12 A, captain), Sophie Shoebridge (Yr11 Ga, vice captain).

When Geelong Grammar School last won the 1st Netball Premiership in 2012, the team faced Wesley College in the final round in what was an unofficial grand final. Both teams were undefeated entering the final round and GGS prevailed on the day by a solitary goal. On Saturday, against Caulfield Grammar School, the girls stepped onto the court with the directive from coach Di Honey to "blow the opposition out of the water" in the first quarter. 

"We placed an emphasis on starting strong in the first quarter to try and get a quick start on them, knowing we’d be able to maintain the lead throughout the game," Elli said, reflecting on the win. The girls got off to a quick start - as they had hoped - and jumped out to a double-figure lead by quarter time, before extending the margin to 18 goals at half time. The team's play from start to finish was unfettered by any build-up of pressure, and those present in the heaving Handbury Centre grandstand were treated to a display of attacking netball this team has become synonymous for. As luck would have it Caulfield Grammar School won the competition in 2017, meaning that the holders were able to present the perpetual trophy to the new champions on-court after the game.

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This year's team is very young, consisting of four Year 12s, three Year 11s and four Year 10s. Under the guidance of long-time 1st Girls' coach Di Honey and assistant coach Melanie Savage, the girls began the season with an emphasis on building relationships. "Ruby, Fleur and I were the only three in the squad with 1st team experience before this season," Elli said. "We had a great bunch of girls who were keen and eager to learn and listen to instruction, helping them develop both as individual players and as a team." When that instruction is coming from a coach of Di's calibre, the players are always going to be more receptive. 

Di Honey has been a Netball coach at GGS for more than a decade. As a player, Di represented Australia at international level on 17 occasions and is a member of the Netball Victoria Hall of Fame. As a coach, she has worked with the Australian national team and is an assistant coach with the Melbourne Vixens in Australia's Super Netball league. "Di is incredible," Elli said. "The time and effort she puts into the team is evident in the way the team has developed and she genuinely cares about each member of the team. She provides the girls and I with clear feedback, specific to each of our needs, helping us to improve." 

Melanie Savage is the current Geelong Cougars Under 19s coach and has vast experience working with underage state teams. Melanie mainly works with the team's attacking players and anyone who witnessed Ruby and Ariana Luamanu (Yr10 A) operating in tandem against Caulfield Grammar School would attest to just how well-drilled the GGS attack looks. "Melanie has also played an important role in the success of this team and we appreciate all that she has done for us," Elli said. 

While the curtain comes down on the AGSV/APS Netball season, our Girls' 1st team hope to make it three consecutive Netball Victoria Schools Championship titles later this term.