The Vitality Netball Superleague has thrown up a plethora of thrills and spills in 2021, with Team Bath currently leading the race for success at the top of the ranks following 11 rounds of breath-taking action.
Ahead of the competition’s move to the Copper Box Arena in London this weekend for the second half of the season, we take a look back at who has stood out on court so far.
Imogen Allison - Team Bath, wing defence
Imogen Allison has proved she can be the glue sticking together an extremely dominant Team Bath side. Her calm and decisive presence on the court has time and time again provided problems for the opposition, making them think about alternative routes through the court.
Following their 52-46 win against Leeds Rhinos, Team Bath head coach Anna Stembridge talked about Allison and what she brings to the team.
She said: “We always know how prolific she is going to be in attack but again you saw today, she turned over critical ball when we needed her to, and I think ultimately her and Serena [Guthrie] have built a real connection.”
Mary Cholhok - Loughborough Lightning, goal shooter
Mary Cholhok is leading the way in the race for the top goal scorer this season having netted 439 goals in 11 appearances - nearly 100 more than Manchester Thunder’s Joyce Mvula (342).
She is ever reliable in the Lightning shooting circle, working in conjunction with whichever attacking line-up Sara Bayman puts on display.
Standing at 6'7, her strong holding style of play ensures that the first-time ball into the circle is always available, allowing the Lightning attack to flow nicely and making it extremely hard to defend against.
Iona Christian - Wasps, centre
Iona Christian’s presence in Wasps’ lineup really helps to settle the flow of the game throughout the court. Her speed and agility coupled with her contributions in both attack and defence can be crucial in terms of the end result as proved in their narrow win against Saracens Mavericks.
Head coach Mel Mansfield spoke about Iona’s impact after their 38-34 win against Mavericks in the last round.
She said: “I’m thrilled for Iona because she’s had a rough week of being attack and centre and a bit of time off court, and what a game to come back into today.”
Towera Vinkhumbo - Strathclyde Sirens, goal keeper
Strathclyde Sirens have certainly been the surprise package this season, already having won more games than they did throughout the whole of the 2019 campaign.
Towera Vinkhumbo’s talent has been a huge contributing factor to their success, her strong defensive displays shining week after week. She has totted up 37 intercepts and 59 turnovers so far - the most in the league.
The Malawi international has certainly impressed since her arrival in the Superleague, with Tamsin Greenway, head coach of the Scottish Thistles saying: “Towera loves to come out hunting, her reactive movement coming onto the ball is incredible both in the circle and the end third.
“And that is the stuff that everyone loves to see, those flying intercepts from nowhere with the combination of reading the game and athleticism is such an art form.”
Kim Borger - Team Bath, goal shooter
As Bath captain, Kim Borger leads the way from inside the shooting circle but has a different style of play to the likes of Cholhok which suits their team down to the ground.
Her movement in the circle and partnership with Sophie Drakeford-Lewis in the goal attack position has been key to Bath’s dominant first half of the season.
While sitting fourth in the league for top goal scorers with 291 goals, her shot success rate is incredibly high at 94.17 per cent, showing how deadly she can be once she has the ball inside the circle.
Tamsin Greenway said: “Her favourite move is to drive through the middle, set up play and then re-enter. Once in the circle her footwork to get around defenders and open up the baseline is incredible. I love her timing, it’s not easy to know when to exit to open up the space for the rest of her team.”