Diamonds head home in sparkling touch

www.mbphoto.co.nzAustralian coach Lisa Alexander has credited the players’ commitment to continuous improvement for her team’s stunning form. 

The Diamonds extended their international winning streak to 14 matches following the 17-goal victory over the Silver Ferns in the opening Test of the 2014 Constellation Cup in Invercargill on Thursday.

A year is a long time in any sport but the past 12 months must feel like a lifetime for Alexander.

It’s been 384 days since the Diamonds left the court dejected in Invercargill, a day that should have celebrated Laura Geitz’s first international Test as captain, to extend their losing streak to four Tests following the England tour.

The team would never look back when they got on the plane the following day.

The Diamonds went on to win the remaining four Tests to secure the Constellation Cup, emphatically win Commonwealth Games gold for the first time in 12 years and reclaim the world number one ranking.

“We’ve come a long way in 12 months, we’ve done a lot of hard work and it was their opportunity (Thursday night) to do the things that we know that we do well and try to put together a 60-minute performance,” Alexander said following her side’s sixth straight victory over New Zealand.

“We’ve done a lot of work on court together, our teamwork and options in attack. Regardless of results and outcomes, we’re continually striving for improvement of our high performance behaviours on and off the court.

www.mbphoto.co.nz“I think a number of players have really stepped up and that’s been a great thing for us.”

Despite the team’s longest winning streak since 2001-2003, Geitz isn’t buying into the notion that the Diamonds already have one hand on the Constellation Cup as the series returns to Melbourne and Sydney for the second and third Tests.

“It’s a little clichéd but we’re just taking one quarter at a time in each game and not looking too far ahead,” said Geitz, who became just the 24th Australian and second Queenslander to record 50 international Test appearances on Thursday.

“All of us know that you never underestimate the Silver Ferns and I’m sure they’ll have a close look at what we did (Thursday night) and have a counter plan for that next time we play them.

“Obviously we’re happy with where we are at now but we still want that improvement, we don’t see that as a faultless performance and we’re obviously disappointed with how we finished.

“That’s the great thing about this group, it’s never ‘that was a fantastic game, lets be happy with it’, our performance is pulled apart and the smallest of things are broken down. We’re constantly searching for improvement and those one-per-centers.

“It’s a fantastic group and I think that moving forward it’s a group that I hope we can keep together.”

The 2014 Constellation Cup continues on Wednesday 8 October when the Australian Diamonds host the Silver Ferns at Hisense Arena, Melbourne, from 7.00pm (AEST). The match will be shown live on FOX Sports and SBS2.