By Russell Bennett
WEST GIPPSLAND FOOTBALL NETBALL COMPETITION
Prior to Monday night, Christie Hillberg was already arguably the most decorated netballer the Gazette’s Football liftout covers.
But the Korumburra-Bena star and playing coach has enhanced her already stellar reputation to astonishing new levels by claiming her seventh league best and fairest award … and she’s still only 25-years-old.
Hillberg finished seven votes clear of her sister, and Giants team-mate, Kim and Bunyip defender and player-coach Ebony Mumford at the West Gippsland Football Netball Competition’s awards night at the Pakenham Racecourse in Tynong on Monday.
Hillberg tallied 25 of a possible 30 votes between Round 2 and Round 11 on her way to adding the inaugural WGFNC A Grade best and fairest to her six Alberton league awards.
But she doesn’t exactly have much time to kick back and think about her achievement – at least not for another week.
This Saturday she leads the Giants into their eighth successive grand final, after storming into the past seven of the Alberton league before the restructure ahead of the 2017 campaign.
Entering the WGFNC as a ruthlessly dominant force, the Giants have so far continued on their all-conquering ways.
They’re yet to drop a game all season so far, but standing in their way of perfection this Saturday at Wonthaggi will be their famous rivals from Dalyston.
The Magpies were the other dominant force in Alberton prior to this year and toppled the Giants in the 2016 decider of that competition.
Club icon Jenny McRae took the reins as A Grade coach this season and Dalyston has rarely missed a beat courtesy of stars Britt and Jarney Thomas, champion defender Tess Angarane, and the McRae girls – Jess, Hannah and Alana.
The Magpies ground out a hard-fought three-goal win, 32-29, over the impressive Phillip Island at Garfield on Saturday to book their place in the decider while the Giants won through in the second week of the finals – also over the Island.
The Giants have defeated the Magpies in the two meetings so far this season by 21 goals and 15 goals respectively.
Christie Hillberg also snared another major honour at the league’s night of nights on Monday, named in defence and as coach of the WGFNC’s senior team of the year.
Mumford was named as a starting defender alongside Hillberg, while Kim Hillberg was named in attack.
Other local players to be selected in the side were Nar Nar Goon’s Georgia Keysers in the midcourt and Rebecca Cox on the interchange bench, and Kooweerup’s Sheena Clarke – also as an interchange player.
Dalyston pair Melissa Beveridge and Emma Ton were named the B and C Grade best and fairest winners respectively, while Shae Kyle from Korumburra-Bena took out the 17-and-under award, Natalia Dijkstra from Bunyip the 15-and-under, and Asha Boyd Metselaar from Inverloch Kongwak the 13-and-under. Kerrie Besley was named the netball umpire of the year.
At the Ellinbank and District Netball Association (EDNA)’s presentation night – held on Sunday – Ellinbank’s Jasmine Ferguson won the A Grade best and fairest with 37 votes from team mate Taylah Bott on 35 and the Warragul Industrials’ Stacey Lawry on 29.