RICHMOND, VA–Since Philly’s 316-86 demolition at the hands of the Texecutioners at ECDX in June, the Liberty Belles have been on an 8-bout winning streak, while the Texecutioners have gone 4-2–but against a much higher calibre of opposition. Texas practically shut down VanEssa ‘V-Diva’ Sites that time out, leaving her with a -65 point differential for the day. If Philly were to have any hope of reversing the earlier result, she would have to have a good day–and her day was spectacular. It wasn’t quite enough for the Liberty Belles, but they were in it right up to the final jams–until two cuts on Devoida Mercy in the final minutes ended Philly’s hopes of an upset win. Texas took the bout 253-210 to claim top seeding in Milwaukee, and leave Philly with a play-in game against London or one of the third-place finishers in the two tournaments to come.
Two Antidote points opened Philly’s account before Fifi Nomenon knocked Devoida Mercy to the floor with a huge forearm straight off the line. Mercy was limited to 10 before calling it to give Sites a power start–and she added 9 despite having fewer than ten seconds unopposed at the start to make it 21-0 with four minutes gone. Clam Jammer ensured a perfect first five for the Liberty Belles with a 5-0 over Bloody Mary, stealing the jammer lap point after Bloody had escaped the clutches of the Philly pack. Olivia Shootin’ John finally got Texas on the board as Antidote was repeatedly hit to the floor by Fifi–in the pack this time–and Barbara Ambush and made it 26-14.
But Hauss backblocked before the pivot line to give Sites another powerjam. Polly Gone got stuck into Sites and limited her to 15 despite managing a couple of easy passes at the start. But next time out a high block by Mercy let Bloody in for a powerjam against a very light Philly pack. She put up a 25-0, and let OJ finish the powerjam off and give Texas their first lead just past the ten-minute mark. Another high block on Mercy when she was released let OJ add to the damage she was already doing and make the lead 62-43.
Antidote then cut twice in the space of two jams–one beautifully forced on the outside of turn four by Smarty Pants–either side of a low block from Bloody Mary and the Texecutioners pulled ahead. Tarantula then hit Bloody out as Persephone jumped back for an equally good penalty force–but before Clam Jammer could do any damage she was boxed on her own cut. Later that jam Tarantula again levelled Bloody with a huge hit to save a final scoring pass.
A Clam Jammer cut towards the end of the period as Philly’s pack dwindled and then queued for the box let Texas finally pull out Sarah Hipel for a jump-filled jam that took the Texecutioners up to a 137-70 lead. Philly got the better of two bitty jams before Clam Jammer closed the half with a multiple pass jam that was gifted to her by Hauss, who recycled all the way to the back of the pack despite the violent exhortations of Hipel on the Texas bench correctly telling her to just skate on that left it 140-90 at the half.
Philly opened the second period as they did the first with consecutive lead calls and shutout jams–with jam three a powerjam for Antidote after a low block call on Hauss. For added deja vu, Clam Jammer again cut on the powerjam to cede the advantage. Hauss returned the favour for the third jammer penalty in the jam with a second low block and the jam ended with Phily 140-111 behind and most of Hauss’ penalty still to run.
Texas unsuccessfully reviewed the call between jams, and Sites recieved offensive support from Holden Grudges to take the gap into single digits as Hauss was released. She then tied it up at 140-140 with a little over five minutes in the period gone. But it was OJ who again ended the scoring drought and stopped the Liberty Belles from taking the lead. Clam Jammer then tied it up again before Shenita recycled Hipel to let Antidote give Philly their first lead since their opening salvo was answered by the Texecutioners. This time it was the Philly jammer who got recycled–and as OJ thought she’d tied it up she got boxed on a forearm as Diva came round to score.
Sites could only add five on the powerjam before Smarty Pants forced a crucial cut as the Philly jammer slowly recycled down the home straight. OJ undid most of Sites’ damage before Bloody finished the job and restored the Texas lead, 157-155 with 17:56 on the clock. Philly’s pack evaporated in front of Hipel as Ambush, Fifi and Bebella Deballl held Clam on a scoring pass, and she made the Texas lead 11.
An OJ backblock at the very end of a 4-3 jam with Sites gave Clam the chance to again give Philly the lead–and so she did, putting the last points on the board with OJ on the track as Shenita pummeled OJ. That jam went 20-0 to Clam and flipped a 10 point deficit into a 10 point lead. Sites made the lead 15 stealing a 4-0 with a huge apex jump and airplane-arm glide around the track despite Bloody getting lead. A 7-4 jam win for Hipel after she showed Sites wasn’t the only one with jumping chops narrowed the gap going into the final ten minutes–but Sites showed off the biggest leap of the night so far to grab another 4-0.
Fifi then dominated Clam as Bloody Mary gave Texas a 215-202 lead. The teams traded points before Mercy cut her way the box during a high-speed battle with Luce Bandit, Ambush and Smarty, and OJ made the Texas lead 20 with less than four minutes remaining and Mercy still seated. Hipel shrugged off some huge hits as The Killa’ Salm Monella joined Fifi in punishing Mercy. That drew another cut–but Hipel backblocked her way to the box on her next pass.
But that left Sites with a very tall order to save the bout–the Liberty Belles trailed by 43, 249-206 with the clock frozen at 1:15 by a Philly official review, and the audience crowding the edge of the ref lane delaying the final jam. Polly Gone–awarded the tournament MVP prize moments after the bout–recycled Sites and let Hipel through for lead with 39 seconds on the clock. Both jammers put up points as the crowd chanted down the final few seconds–and Texas took the bout and the tournament 253-210 to join Denver as a top seed in Milwaukee.