ON COURT: Stephanie Wood has represented her country and won a national league title.
ON COURT: Stephanie Wood has represented her country and won a national league title. John McCutcheon

Big game experience set to help Lightning

NETBALL: Sunshine Coast assistant coach Kylee Byrne believes their experience in big games holds them in good stead for a crucial clash against the Vixens in Melbourne on Sunday.

The two sides will collide in the last round of the Super Netball regular season, with a finals berth essentially at stake.

The Lightning basically need to win two quarters of the contest to secure their spot.

Byrne believes they can handle the occasion - and the hype of the finals should they get there - largely because they have done it all before.

They got through a stretch of key games to win the premiership last year.

"That's a huge strength for us," she said.

"Not only last year's finals experience ... but we have some big game players in our squad too, which is excellent.

"You look at those on the international scene."

The Lightning squad boasts Australian attacking duo Caitlin Bassett and Stephanie Wood, England goal keeper Geva Mentor and South Africa representative Karla Pretorius.

"They know when to deliver so I think that's a huge advantage for us," Byrne said.

She said the squad, which boasts nine of 10 players from their inaugural season, is more composed this time around.

"Certainly those nerves (that were) around last year don't seem to be there this year," she said.

"And knowing how important this match is and (potentially) the next couple ... there's a real sense of calmness."

She said the Lightning would look to win all four quarters of the match.

They've won their past three games and have lost just one of their past six, after starting the season slowly.

"It just feels like we're building with a purpose which is exactly what we intended to do," Byrne said. "We planned all this from the start of the year and I was saying to peak at the right time and it certainly feels that way within the team and (with) what we're seeing out on court."

Key to their success has been a much lower error rate. They've also conceded the fewest points in the league. It's their offence which they're working on.

"We still think there's probably another 10 goals in us so there's some areas where we want to work on," Byrne said. "Particularly on getting the ball down the court quickly and scoring from it, so not having to take 10 passes to get to shot.

"Defensively, we're really happy with what we're doing. We're creating lots of intercepts and Geva's back to some of her best form, which is excellent. And the work out in front (of Mentor) from Laura Scherian, Maddy McAuliffe and Karla Pretious is huge so we're really happy with that side."

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