NETBALL: When Queensland captain Laura Geitz thanks her supporters from all over the state, she does so with plenty of emotion.
Ahead of Sunday's ANZ Championship grand final against the NSW Swifts at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Geitz said it was the fans that had willed her to continue aspiring to greatness.
A sold-out crowd is expected and Geitz will lead the team she has represented since 2008 to its fourth-straight title decider.
The fact the 28-year-old continues to raise her own standards and that of her teammates is remarkable seeing she tragically lost her father and No.1 fan Ross in a farm accident in 2013.
Before another 10,000-strong attendance on Sunday - the Firebirds beat the same Sydney-based opponents 57-56 in a thrilling grand final in front of a packed Brisbane Entertainment Centre last year - Geitz paid tribute to her netball "family” at the Firebirds and across the state.
"It's like my other family and they've supported me through some of the best times and some of the tougher times,” she told Australian Regional Media.
"It's not just the 12 girls and the coach and the support staff, it's Netball Queensland and the netball community all over the state.
"It's messages of support from people week in and week out who we meet in our travels.”
Geitz admitted she wasn't sure if it would be her final competitive netball game.
"It's not about me; it's about the team. I never want it to be about me,” she said.
"If everything goes according to plan (and the Firebirds win) it'll be time to reflect and have a think about what my future is.
"But, at this stage, I don't know. All I know is that we've got a job to finish off with the Firebirds and that's all I'm worried about.”
That plan to get a win and notch the Firebirds' second-straight title and a record third overall won't be easy against the Swifts.
The record is 2-1 to the Queensland outfit this year, and another thrilling grand final between the two teams is a near-guarantee.
"I don't think we've got the wood over them. I think they've been pretty even contests,” Geitz said.
"Across the court we're pretty evenly matched and they're the type of team that really gets up and plays finals netball.
"They've got fantastic individual players like Sharni Layton and they're a physical team.
"When the Firebirds play the Swifts it's all about the intensity for 60 minutes - it's full-on.”
Geitz spoke about her team aspiring to play "perfect netball” during its record 21-win streak, before the Swifts broke that run in late May.
Another loss followed against the Southern Steel two rounds later when Geitz and fellow defensive pillar Clare McMeniman were out injured.
But since then the Firebirds haven't been far off perfection, winning four straight games including impressive bounce-back wins over the Swifts and Steel in home finals.
"The Queensland crowd is just amazing. We are very grateful we've got such supportive fans and it's like they give us that extra person out on the court,” Geitz said.
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