Northwest Knockdown Round 1 Recap
By Rei Zerburnn of Lilac City Rollergirls
Carolina v. Texas
Texas was in a great position coming into this tournament, with a 5-bout winning steak behind them, including wins over powerful Western teams Rat City and the B.ay A.rea D.erby Girls. They seemed confident and relaxed while warming up before the bout, practicing their pack movement and doing some light drills in the competitor's area behind the scenes of the event. Talking with some of the girls revealed a team that was focused and ready to do a job. Even when asked how the void left by Lady X would affect them, Texecutioners Shank and Curvette were still very confident.
"We'll miss her, but I don't think it's going to be a factor. I think we'll definitely take this game, we just have to play our game." offered Curvette. There was finality to her voice as she added, "We've been training a long time for this."
Carolina, on the other hand seem to have more of a nervous energy as they prepared for their matchup against Texas, perhaps because they've come up short against the Texecutioners in all three of their previous face-offs. The Carolina girls were still grimly determined though, and when asked about holes in the team's rosters, Carolina jammer Zella Lugosi was certain that "It doesn't matter who's there and who's not, whatever happens, it's whoever holds to their game."
Tonight, Texas definitely played their game against Carolina. As they finished their team intros, the Texas kill machine lined up in front of the Carolina bench, pointing menacingly at their opponents, stamping their skates and pumping their fists in the air as they chanted, ending with "Texas, Texas, Kill, Kill, Kill!"
It was a promise they kept as the Texas jammers exploded off the line, calling each jam before Carolina could score and racking up a grand slam and a 19-0 lead within the first five jams.
Despite Texas' fast start, Carolina quickly rallied, holding star Texas jammer Rice Rocket to only 10 points in the first half and the Texecutioner squad to a total 52 points, giving their critical jammers Roxy Rockett and DVS enough time to put up 36 points of their own with some help from blocker/jammer Betty Rumble.
Carolina was firmly within striking distance of their Lone Star rivals going into the second half, but too many penalties killed their chances of closing the gap with Carolina running a 2 blocker pack on several occasions and literally serving penalties in a full-to-capacity sin bin in round-the-jam shifts.
The nail in the coffin was pounded in by Rice Rocket, putting up the points in grand slam after grand slam, to finish with a staggering 72 points of Texas' 125-61 win over Carolina.
Texas MVP: Without question, Rice Rocket was Texas' Most Valuable Player of the night. She played an amazing game for the Texecutioners, and was the critical scoring factor. Not only did she weave through the Carolina pack with her trademark agility, but intelligently used her lead jammer status to hold Carolina back while laying down back-to-back grand slams.
Carolina MVP: Roxy Rockett was an omnipresent force for Carolina, not only snagging lead jammer status along with a big chunk of points for her team, but as a powerful part of the pack, displaying amazing positional blocking skills as she held back the Texas jammers and played a key role in shutting down Rice Rocket during the first half. Also deserving of a mention was Zella Lugosi, who showed amazing heart and tenacity while wearing the jammer wearing the jammer star and had the most memorable hit of the game when she singlehandedly took out 3 Texecutioners at the same time.
Final Score: Texas 125, Carolina 61
Texas will advance to play the winner of the semifinal bout between Windy City and Rat City on Saturday.
Duke v. Gotham
The bout between Gotham and Duke was almost a battle of David versus Goliath, matching two teams who traveled to Nationals via opposite paths.
Duke was the clear underdog coming into the tournament as the the only non-bye team competing (every other final 8 team held a top eight ranking as of regional competition, while Duke was ranked 17th). The Dead Dolls' rocketed into Nationals and into the hearts of derby fans nationwide with a Cinderella-story upset over the 2007 champion KC Roller Warriors at the opening night of Western regionals. Despite that stellar performance though, Duke has since been hot and cold with a shaky win over Pike's Peak and turbulent losses to Rat City and B.ay A.rea.
Gotham, on the other hand, is not only the current tournament favorite, but the closest thing women's flat track roller derby has to a dynasty. Currently riding on WFTDA's longest winning winning streak at 9 games, and boasting a 13-1 record going into regional competition, the Beast from the East seems unstoppable. The Gotham girls have neatly handled the toughest Eastern teams, beating both Philly and Windy, and bringing home wins with an average 80 point lead margin.
Tonight, the Duke that put away the ladies from Kansas was nowhere in sight as they faltered off the line against Gotham and couldn't seem to recover. Duke's star jammer, Kamikaze Kim, was rendered totally ineffective by a combination of Gotham's tough defense (highlighted by a Beyonslay that seemed to zero in on Kim with laser precision), and a disappointing lack of assistance from her blockers. Duke seemed to rally somewhat when they could box in a Gotham Girl and drag the pace, but Gotham was too quick and ran a lighting pack that left the Dolls strung out along the track and ineffective both offensively and defensively. Jammers Muffin and Meep Meep, Duke's other leading jammers, couldn't seem to get a foothold on the scoreboard either, and Duke finished the first half with only 8 points to Gotham's 98. Duke fans were baffled to see Kamikaze Kim, who co-holds the WFTDA record for the single highest scoring jam at 25 points, held to less than 5 points in 30 minutes by the opposing team.
The tone for the first half was set by Gotham's stable of frighteningly fast jammers (Suzy Hotrod, Bonnie Thunders, Cheap Skate, and the versatile Fisti Cuffs), dominating the lead jammer slot and pouring on the points in a crushing landslide of grand slams.
By the second half, the damage was done and although Duke got some of their mojo back late in the period, there was no way to make up the lost momentum, losing Duke the game, 25 to 180.
Gotham MVP: Although all the Gotham jammers were in top form, Suzy Hotrod was the definite standout, putting an insane 79 points on the board and making it look easy.
Duke MVP: Duke's lineup was simply off tonight, with the highest scoring jam at only 4 points, and no consistently effective blocking to speak of, so there was no clear MVP. That said though, the fans certainly got on their feet when Duke's Miss E. Vill, who skated out carrying a sign that read "Legalize Big Hits", landed a huge, clean block on Gotham's Beyonslay, taking her out in spectacular fashion.
Final Score: Duke 25, Gotham 180
Gotham will advance to play the winner of the Philly v. B.ay A.rea bout on Saturday.