SA completes clean sweep at University Champs
South Africa went undefeated in the group stages of the World University Netball Championship in Cape Town after beating the USA 93-14 on Wednesday.
It was not quite the drubbing they had hoped for, as South Africa lost focus towards the end of the match.
Having kept a clean sheet in the first quarter, taking a 29-0 lead, the hosts conceded just one goal in the second quarter, and went into the half-time break 52-1 ahead.
Another century seemed on the cards but, as the home side experimented with different combinations, the Americans threw caution to the wind and came back to score four goals in the third and nine in the final quarter of the match.
Passing was sloppy and goals took longer to come by for the South Africans — in stark contrast to the first half of the game, where it took literally a couple of seconds between each of their goals.
Coach Dorette Badenhorst said the girls lost focus after centre Danique du Toit was assisted off the court with an ankle injury.
“It’s not always easy to keep your focus in a game like this,” Badenhorst said, referring to the huge gap between the two teams.
“We can learn a lot from today’s game because the girls lost concentration after the injury.
“We need to realise that if there is an injury, we must play as a team and keep our focus on the game.” She said Du Toit, the back-up centre, would almost certainly be out for the rest of the tournament.
South Africa’s captain Maryka Holtzhausen felt it was more a question of finding the right combinations than keeping themselves focused.
“I don’t think we took our foot off the pedal,” Hotzhausen said.
“We just changed our combinations and it didn’t work as well as it did at the start of the match.
“But I didn’t think it went that badly in the last two quarters.” USA’s South African-born coach, Ilze Gideons and captain Shallyn Reeves, formerly of New Zealand, were more upbeat after the match.
Despite losing all their group games, Gideons said they were pleased with their performances so far.
“We had set ourselves a target of five goals per quarter so, when that didn’t work, we just told the girls to keep fighting but the score doesn’t matter anymore,” Gideons said.
“We told them to just keep going, play hard and enjoy themselves.
“We’ve only been playing together for four months as a team so we didn’t want to overload them with pressure.” South Africa face Namibia in their quarterfinal game on Thursday and Badenhorst said the team were ready.
“We played really good netball over the last three days and worked to play our own game,” Badenhorst said.
“We are building up nicely to the quarterfinals and have done all our preparations.
“It won’t be an easy game against Namibia, as they’re a good team, but the girls are ready and psyched up for a good match.”