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A stirring fightback win over the Giants has Melbourne Vixens believing again ahead of next week's Super Netball grand final against West Coast Fever.
Melbourne Vixens coach Simone McKinnis is counting on her side to carry the momentum from their barnstorming preliminary final finish over the Giants into the Super Netball decider against West Coast Fever.
The minor premiers were in serious danger of bombing out of the post-season with two straight home losses after being outscored 40-23 by the visitors through the second and third quarters of Saturday's grand final qualifier at John Cain Arena.
But the Vixens ended the Giants' season in dramatic circumstances by overcoming a nine-goal deficit in the final quarter to secure a memorable one-goal win, producing glimpses of the form that propelled them to a 14-2 record in the regular season.
"That's what I'm really happy about - that last quarter it sort of felt like we're back," McKinnis told Fox Netball after Melbourne pulled off a remarkable 55-54 victory to battle into next Sunday's final.
"There has been some little bit of hesitancy but it just felt like we're back and feeling good and believing, and they've got to take some confidence from that as well."
After taking out the 2020 championship, the Vixens were unable to cover the losses of retired duo Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip, along with a season-ending foot injury to powerful midcourter Liz Watson, and finished a horror 2021 season on the bottom of the ladder.
But with Watson's return and new recruit Kiera Austin's successful comeback from a serious knee injury, the Vixens are one win away from completing the rare feat of rising from wooden spooners to premiers in the space of one year.
"I do very clearly remember being wooden spooners, it's not something that goes away, but it has been a big effort from the group and they've worked really hard to get where they are," McKinnis said about Melbourne's resurgence.
"There was a huge determination and commitment that we were going to make it different, and there have been players that have really stepped up and built the team that we wanted to be."
West Coast thoroughly outplayed the Vixens with a 71-62 victory in the major-semi-final but McKinnis feels like her squad has the ability to bounce back against the hometown Fever - and prolific goal shooter Jhaniele Fowler - in the grand final.
"I think that we very quickly moved on, we had to acknowledge it was poor and the Fever were fantastic that game," McKinnis said about the semi-final loss.
"I think that we'll take a lot from that game today and the fight, and how hard we had to work for it."
The Vixens will be bolstered by the return of Austin for the grand final clash after the Australian Diamonds representative missed the preliminary final due to health and safety protocols.