A grand final eve pow-wow sharpened the Melbourne Vixens' focus before their pulsating 66-64 victory that handed them a third national netball league title.
After almost a century of days spent locked out of their home state due to COVID-19, the Vixens defeated the West Coast Fever at Brisbane's Nissan Arena on Sunday to secure the Super Netball championship and send retiring stars Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip out in celebratory style.
With veterans Thwaites and Phillip signing off, and Victoria sweating on the outcome, the Vixens risked sending themselves into emotional overload in the decider.
But a team meeting on Saturday pulled the players even tighter together as coach Simone McKinnis demanded they concentrate only on themselves and what was an epic encounter.
"It was exhilaration, that moment when the game was over," McKinnis said.
"And pride and relief and everything in between."
The Vixens remained cool under enormous pressure from the Fever, for whom Jhaniele Fowler netted 54 goals.
Nothing separated the teams until the final quarter when a handful of skilful and determined acts steered the Vixens home.
With 90 seconds remaining, defenders Emily Mannix and Jo Weston pounced on a rebound that ensured the Vixens retained possession and denied the Fever a final say.
Vixens star Mwai Kumwenda was awarded the grand final most valuable player award for her 47 goals at 94 per cent accuracy.
Philip, Weston and co-captains Kate Moloney and Liz Watson tasted title victory with the Vixens in 2014 but this unprecedented campaign in Queensland's biosecurity hub was unforgettable for the Victorians.
"Lizzie and I were first and second year players in 2014. Netball is so strong in Victoria and the years in between made us realise how hard it is to win," Moloney said.
"This one's bloody special."
Fever coach Stacey Marinkovich said her side could not do much more to bring home what would have been a maiden title.
They were happy to just reach the grand final two years ago and expected more from their second decider in three years.
"It's pretty gut wrenching right now," Marinkovich said.
"We've grown so much since 2018 and we've made some big decisions ... over 18 months we've built a team that can play that kind of netball."