A player of the match performance in her latest outing has capped a stellar rise for Central Manawa shooter Bianca Nagaiya in the National Netball League (NNL).
In her third season with the defending champions, 2021 has been a breakout year for Nagaiya, hard work and perseverance paying off with a regular starting spot for the first time with impressive results.
``I was tracking well last year but then with our two cancelled seasons (due to Covid-19), this is now the year when I’ve been given the opportunity to be the starting goal attack which is really cool,’’ she said.
``Within the team, you’re always competing week-in week-out for a spot on the selected team (match-day 10) so we’re always pushing each other.
``The environment is so positive. We all lift each other and we all know that at the end of the day we’re all working hard for each other and no matter who’s on the court we’re all part of that process.’’
Manawa learned some valuable lessons last week when coming within a whisker of toppling the unbeaten Northern Comets. Leading by eight going into the final quarter, Manawa let a late-charging Comets off the hook as the match ended in an exciting 43-all draw.
That has left them third on the points table but still well-placed to once again challenge for the title.
``I think we started playing like it was ours to lose instead of playing to win, so it’s just the mindset shift that we need to work on for next time,’’ Nagaiya said.
And that will be the intent when Manawa meet Waikato Bay of Plenty in Te Aroha on Saturday, a team Manawa beat comfortably in their opening game of the campaign.
``Every team has been lifting week-in week-out so you can’t rest on your laurels or get complacent, it’s about building again and building hard,’’ she said.
Athletic and rangy, Nagaiya, 20, predominantly a goal attack but also a handy wing attack, is a real presence with her ability to set up play in and around the circle through her height, skill set and game awareness.
Daughter of former Silver Fern and national selector Gael Nagaiya (nee Robinson), who was an athletic and rangy defender, the younger Nagaiya moved from Auckland to attend Victoria University in 2019 where she is studying law, psychology and criminology.
After the Covid restrictions and with last season cancelled, Mum was, finally, on hand to watch her daughter play against the Comets last weekend.
``It was the first time she’s seen me play in a couple of years so it was very cool,’’ Bianca said.
``She used to try and give me advice back in Year 6 and I didn’t think she knew anything. But I do take her a bit more seriously nowadays and she gives good advice on what the defender is thinking and how to combat that, so it’s good.’’
Mindful of what’s gone before, Manawa continue to strive to be better.
``We’ve got a bit of a legacy now and we’re trying to get that repeated win after the past three years but at the end of the day, it’s all about the performance you put out on court, so that’s what we need to focus on, then if that happens, the results will come naturally,’’ Nagaiya said.