If 2017 was about rebuilding for Hawks Netball’s Division 1 team, then 2018 is about stepping things up.

More than half of the team was new to the club last year and while its eight wins were an improvement over 2016, inconsistency proved costly across the 18 rounds, with a sixth-place finish after winning just two of the last six games.

But¬†it will be a more stable Hawks Div 1 outfit that takes to the court this year, with almost all of the players selected from the club’s 2017 teams.

Young goaler Daisy Hill moves into the Division 1 fold after two seasons in the 19/U division and a standout Nationals campaign for the Northern Territory, while¬†defensive midcourter Enya Broadley has also made the transition from 19/U and will be a permanent fixture after impressing when called up for two games in the Hawks’ Championship team last season.

19/U PREVIEW: Big season beckons for young Hawks

Goal keeper Clare Johnson has crossed from Ariels and will add plenty of height to a defensive line that punched well above its size in 2017, conceding the second least number of goals of any team in the competition.

Johnson will be partnered in defence by club veteran Maddy Byrne and second-year Hawks Chloe Sinclair and Juliet Fisher, who was elevated after being a training partner last year.

Bridgette Furphy and Monique Lenehan-Moustafa make up the rest of the goaling contingent, while Olivia Gigli, Kate Fletcher and Nichola Tulley complete the team’s midcourt line-up for the start of the season.

Co-captain Gigli said the team’s pre-season performances had fired a few warning shots at the competition as to what the group might be capable of this year.

“It was really exciting to see our team’s progression from practice matches to the official pre-season round robin, especially in week two when the girls were clearly working well with each other in their respective areas and we were able to secure both wins for the night,” Gigli said.

“We’ve had a solid and consistent pre-season with an early focus on forming strong connections between players on and off the court.”

“We’ve got our sights set on hopefully securing a finals spot this year but more importantly we’re just focused on putting out four quarters of solid netball and the rest will take care of itself.”

Gigli said the girls were excited to finally get out there in Hawks colours after five months of hard work and preparation.

“We’ve still got a few ends to tidy up, but we can’t wait to put on our new dresses and get on the court.”

The Hawks’ Division 1 team will open its 2018 Bupa Victorian Netball League season against Peninsula Waves this Sunday, April 29 at 1.50pm on Court 4 at the State Netball Hockey Centre in Parkville. The Hawks 19/U team gets things underway at 12.30pm, while Championship will take to the court at 3.10pm.

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