Marianna Tolo walks back through time ahead of WNBL decider
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Marianna Tolo walks back through time ahead of WNBL decider

Marianna Tolo can remember it like it was yesterday. The short walk from the AIS Arena to Canberra Stadium as a newly crowned WNBL champion to do a lap of honour at the ACT Brumbies game.

Tolo is Canberra Capitals through and through. She's the playing link between the glory days and their potential rebirth, riding the rollercoaster through the WNBL team's tough times as well.

Marianna Tolo has ridden the Canberra Capitals rollercoaster to the verge of her third WNBL title.

Marianna Tolo has ridden the Canberra Capitals rollercoaster to the verge of her third WNBL title. Credit:Dion Georgopoulos

Not to mention her own hardships that included two knee reconstructions - the second of which she could put behind her with another championship title.

She's in Adelaide preparing for game two of the WNBL championship series against the Lightning on Wednesday night.

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The Capitals won the opener emphatically and they're just 40 minutes away from claiming an eighth title.

Tolo still can't believe it's been 10 years since her first Capitals championship, when they edged out the Bulleen Boomers by just three points.

She was there again the following season when they went back-to-back against the Boomers in 2010 - and the last time the Capitals won the title.

"We had a core group together for a few years and that game was an absolute domination," Tolo said.

"I think we blew them out ... I think they had a little bit of a spurt towards the end, but we were able to hang on.

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"I just remember afterwards the celebrations and walking outside to the Brumbies game to do a victory lap of the stadium there and I have fond memories of walking up that ramp and just being so elated and happy that I got to experience that."

She got taken back there before game one.

Someone moved the speaker to the back of the change rooms during the warm-up and next minute she was travelling back through time.

Since then there's been injuries, Olympic agony and Olympic dreams.

Tolo even missed the first 10 games of this season, a meniscus problem delaying her return.

"It's been a long journey. I can't believe that I can say it's 10 years ago that that happened," she said.

Tolo has her eyes on the prize.

Tolo has her eyes on the prize.Credit:AAP Image/Sam Mooy

"I've been overseas, I've done two knee reconstructions, missed out on making London Olympics, made the world championship team, made the Rio Olympics and had all these wonderful experiences.

"Then to come back home and potentially be able to celebrate another grand final after that is awesome."

But she wasn't the only one struggling at the start of the season.

Lauren Scherf was in a car accident and broke her collarbone, not to mention Keely Froling (meniscus), Kelsey Griffin (hamstring), Leilani Mitchell (plantar fasciitis) and Kristy Wallace (knee).

"We were looking at the start of the season going, 'Gosh, are we going to have enough people on the court?'," Tolo said.

"I was out, 'Wally' was out. We've done such a good job to stay on the floor the whole season. It's pretty incredible when you look back at it."

Capitals coach Paul Goriss said the fact the team that was on the court at the start of the season was winning made it easier for Tolo to return without feeling pressure she needed to rush.

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He praised his co-captain as part of the heart and soul of the club, her two championships complementing the tough years that followed.

"She's spoken about the good days when they were winning and packed out the [AIS] Arena and then the bad days when they didn't win championships and at the bottom of the ladder and not doing so well," Goriss said.

"She's got that fire in her belly. She's a true Capital through and through and she wants to get the Capitals back to where they belong in that top echelon.

"She's super important and I think everyone respects the rehab and what they've had to go through and she's a huge part of our team because of that."

WNBL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES GAME TWO

Wednesday: Canberra Capitals v Adelaide Lightning at Adelaide, 7pm. Live on Fox Sports.

David Polkinghorne covers the Canberra Raiders, local rugby league, Canberra Cavalry, racing and cycling, along with every other sport, for The Canberra Times.

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