Lightning: We can strike thrice
LIGHTNING midcourter Madeline McAuliffe says the more things have changed at the Sunshine Coast, the more they have stayed the same.
Amid roster turnover and differing paths to three-straight grand finals, the one constant for the reigning Suncorp Super Netball premiers is an unshakeable belief in each other, regardless of the circumstances.
McAuliffe is one of five Lightning players who will be playing in their third consecutive decider when the Sunshine Coast take on the NSW Swifts at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre on Sunday.
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Steph Wood, Karla Pretorius, Laura Scherian and Cara Koenen are the other foundation Lightning players to have seen it all at the club that is gunning for a remarkable hat-trick of titles in its short but spectacular three-year existence.
"There has always been a really strong belief within the group. It sounds a bit clichéd but in games it doesn't matter what the situation is, we believe we can pull out the win,'' McAuliffe said.
"When we started, we were told we couldn't win because we were too new. Then we were told that we couldn't go back-to-back and then with all the changes we had, there was no chance we could challenge again.
"So it feels pretty good to be in another grand final.''
McAuliffe - who represented Queensland at under 19 and under 21 levels - said going to netball's big dance never got old.
"Each year has been so special and has had its own unique elements that keeps everyone excited and gives you the emotion and passion you need to be successful,'' she said.
"We've got to each of the grand finals in different ways. Last year we fought from fourth, the first year we finished second and this year we were minor premiers so there's been a different feeling with each one.
"And players like Peace (Proscovia) and Phumza (Maweni) are playing in their first grand final so seeing it through their eyes is another element for us.''
McAuliffe said Boondall had been a home away from their USC Stadium home, with the Lightning winning the 2017 grand final at the venue along with last year's elimination final against the Queensland Firebirds.
"We'd love to be playing at USC Stadium but 3000 seats won't be enough for the grand final. But what we do know is that our amazing fans will be making the trip down and will be making some noise,'' she said.