South Central Teams Face Off In Six-Team Tournament

HUNTSVILLE, AL — Following in the footsteps of Pikes Peak’s Four Corner Feud mini-tournament in February, which brought together six WFTDA teams from the West Region to battle it out, comes this Saturday’s Rocket City Rumble in Huntsville, Alabama, hosted by the Dixie Derby Girls. This time, six WFTDA teams from the South Central get together for a one-day, five-bout tournament that will serve as a useful warm-up for the WFTDA South Central regional tournament, taking place in Atlanta from September 25th to 27th.

All bouts in the tournament are full-length and WFTDA sanctioned, although the results will not be considered for the upcoming WFTDA rankings that will determine the invitations and seedings for the South Central regional tournament — the rankings quarter ended on June 30.

Atlanta, officially ranked #5 in the region by WFTDA, and Nashville, ranked #7, will have first-round byes. The opening rounds feature Northwest Arkansas (#11 SC) vs Big Easy (#15 SC) and Tampa Bay (#8 SC) vs. Dixie (#16 SC). There will be no third-place consolation bout, but a 30 minute “Ref Jam” featuring both male and female tournament officials between the semifinals and championship bout will afford the finalists an opportunity to catch their breath before the marquee bout.

Noon: #11 SC Northwest Arkansas vs. #15 SC Big Easy

The Killbillies had a big 164-46 win on the young Oklahoma Victory Dolls in February of this year, but their adventures in recent months have ended up with the NWA girls on the wrong side of the outcomes. They’ve gone down big to Fort Wayne in May (119-66) and Kansas City in June (215-63), and also lost a closer bout to No Coast in June, 91-74. That leaves them with a 1-3 record on the year and just hovering on the outskirts of an invite to the South Central regionals, as only the top ten teams from the region will be invited.

Although the girls from New Orleans are one of the oldest teams in the WFTDA, Big Easy hasn’t had a good time of it either on the scoreboards — their last win was in April 2008 against Green Country. In the ensuing 15 months, they’ve lost 8 in a row, most recently a 119-61 loss to Memphis. Their all-time record in WFTDA-sanctioned bouts is a rough 1-10.

The two teams have faced off once before, with NWA coming out on top in a 116-82 meeting in April 2008. The winner here takes on Atlanta in the semifinal round.

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1:30pm: #8 SC Tampa Bay vs. #16 SC Dixie

Tampa Bay has long ruled their state in a somewhat isolated Florida derby scene, laying claim to the unofficial title of Florida State champions with a win in February’s Sunshine Skate tournament. They haven’t had as much success when taking on out of state rivals, though. This year they’ve lost to Nashville in a high scoring 154-142 shootout and Dallas in a 165-82 blowout, but did acquit themselves decently in a 167-116 loss to top-25 Madison at last month’s ECE.

Hosting team Dixie, although one of the original 30 WFTDA leagues, has generally been unable to turn their long experience into wins. They’re still looking for their first win of 2009, sitting on an 0-6 record on the year after losing to Southern Indiana, Naptown, Mississippi, Green Country, Nashville and Hard Knox.

This will be the first meeting between the two teams, with the winner going up against Nashville in the semifinal.

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3pm: #5 SC Atlanta vs. #11 SC Northwest Arkansas or #15 SC Big Easy

Tournament favorites Atlanta have long been hovering just outside of the DNN top 25 Power Rankings, usually defeating unranked teams and acquitting themselves decently against the top 25. They’ve been busy in 2009, putting together a 4-6 record by beating Dominion, Montreal, Memphis and Assassination City while falling to Dallas, Charm City, Texas, Cincinnati, Steel City and Houston. They played two bouts at the recent East Coast Extravaganza in Philly, beating Montreal and losing to Cincinnati.

Led on the jam line by Demi Gore, Thunder Enlighten and Juju, Atlanta features a particularly pounding blocker in Queen Looseyateefa and has an ability to really put the hammer down when they have pack advantages — in their ECE bout against Montreal, they managed to turn a long series of penalty troubles on Montreal into a 58-0 run that put the game away.

Atlanta has never faced either of their potential semifinal opponents, NWA or Big Easy.

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4:30pm: Nashville vs. Tampa Bay or Dixie

Nashville has had a pretty good time of it in 2009 — they hold a 3-2 record on the year, with one of those losses to a very experienced and talented team in Texas home crew Hotrod Honeys, and the other one a narrow 64-59 loss to Fort Wayne. They’ve already taken out three of the six teams in this tournament — Big Easy 211-34, Tampa 154-142, and Dixie 164-64 — so they’ve got to be considered favorites to advance to the championship bout here, though history shows that Tampa Bay could give them some trouble.

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Front page photo: Joe Rollerfan

#18 Minnesota Drops #35 Northwest Arkansas, 158-46

ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA — After six months of rest and much touring as a travel squad, the Minnesota RollerGirls All-Stars returned to the Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium on October 18th.  Ranked 18th in the nation and fresh off of Eastern Regionals, the MNRG invited 35th-ranked Northwest Arkansas’ Killbillies to its opening bout in front of 2500 Twin Cities fans. NWA brought a team that had been playing together since March and fought against the Minnesota defense all evening long, but the final result was a lopsided victory for the home team — Minnesota was up 90-4 at halftime on their way to a 158-46 win.

Suzie Smashbox, a darling of the MNRG crowd (and league co-MVP) stood against Arkansas’ Mellow Yellow…and within two seconds of the whistle, Yellow had hit the floor from a well-timed inside shoulder by Smashbox.  With her opponent down, Suzie sped through the pack, took the first four points, and called off the jam.  MNRG co-MVP Jawbreaker then led to take another five points in the next jam. Not to be outdone, Smashbox scored two before Minnesota’s Harmony Killerbruise put nine points on the board with tremendous defensive blocking from MNRG pivot Demora Liza.  In six minutes, the MNRG had taken twenty unanswered points.  

The NWA did not stand still in the midst of this; Mellow Yellow, Apache Rose, and Danger Darling all took turns beating against the Minnesota pack, but all were stymied by the opening minutes.  With no penalties early in the game and early strong jammers, Minnesota often leaves their jammers to work their own way through the pack and takes on the task of juggling the opponents, and this bout was no exception.  Minnesota blockers Misfit Maiden and Honeydew Felon kept sweeping Arkansas off the track, forcing them to re-engage from the back and leaving the NWA to constantly have to catch up.

Apache Rose finally broke out of the Minnesota pack while NWA’s Unskinny Wop ran interference, took the lead and scored two points before calling off the jam. Suzie Smashbox responded with a fast stroll past Wop in the following jam, taking the lead while NWA’s jammer Danger Darling was sent to the box.  Suzie took advantage of the power jam for a full double slam, and ten minutes into the game, MNRG was up by 31.  

The Killbillies took their first timeout to reconnoiter and recover, but to no avail.  Over the course of the next nine jams, Arkansas’ team became mired in major penalties and accumulations of minors. NWA’s Joann of Arc, Pork Pie, Mellow Yellow, and Rockin Robin – all while jamming – were sent to the penalty box, leaving Minnesota with many power jam opportunities.  The MNRG took full advantage and added 48 points to the score; the NWA grabbed two points during this period and did not score again until the next half.  

Once the NWA cleared up their penalty issues, the pace returned to the quick score-and-call tactics that Minnesota employed early on.  At the end of the half, Minnesota had taken a dominant lead against Arkansas, 90-4.  

Key to Minnesota’s high point-differential was the MNRG defensive team.  Minnesota blockers not only sent Killbillies spinning (particularly Misfit Maiden and Citizen Pain), but they also sent Arkansas blockers into penalty trouble. Little by little, Minnesota kept pushing the NWA off of the track, trapping their opposition into re-emerging illegally on the track. A change to league rules this summer has made this tactic a favorite of the travel circuit. When a player comes back from outside the lines in front of someone that they did not pass on the track (that is, legally),  track-cutting gets called and the offender is either charged a minor or a major penalty (a trip to the penalty box).  This can kill a team’s momentum as either the jammer (usually the target) gets sent out or a portion of the defensive line is removed; neither is a good option.

At halftime, both teams changed tactics.  With a sizable lead, Minnesota opened up their play a little and began working in jammers outside of the Twin Cities triumvirate of Harmony, Suzie, and Jawbreaker.  Arkansas likewise decided to test Minnesota’s reputation as a hard-hitting team and lay on some targeted blocking of its own.  In the half’s first jam, Harmony took the lead by taking a ride on a Jawbreaker legwhip and scoring six points before NWA’s Unskinny Wop stopped her cold in the back corner.  Mellow Yellow broke the pack as well and took four points.  

Minnesota’s Suzie Smashbox scored ten points while taking heavy hits from Pork Pie and Dimah Darling; Apache Rose took advantage of two illegal blocks from MN and scored seven points.  Danger Darling grabbed a lead in the next jam and seriously built up a score for the Killbillies when Misfit Maiden – attempting to score for MNRG – was sent to Grandma’s Kitchen for a one-minute timeout.  Using Pork Pie and Dimah to clear the road, Danger scored an even dozen.  

With Maiden still in the box, Mellow jammed unopposed but fell afoul of Harmony Killerbruise and an ugly hit in the back of the pack by Honeydew Felon.  Fortunes were quickly reversed and Mellow went to the box, although Misfit did not score in turn.  Suzie entered to take advantage, withstanding a withering glance from NWA’s Blackzilla, but was sent to the box herself.  With 20 minutes remaining, the score was 108-27.

Pork Pie came to the line against Minnesota’s Vuedoo Prodigy.  Vue jumped ahead and grabbed the lead while Pork got stopped by MNRG’s Demora Liza.  Liza – who has been juggled around the MNRG pack over the past few games – really seemed at home in the Pivot position, keeping jammers back with booty blocks just long enough for her blockers to pick off the opposition.  Vuedoo grabbed eight points off that jam.  

After an inconclusive jam led by MNRG’s Hanna Belle Lector, Harmony scored an additional nine to Joann of Arc’s three.  At that point, both defenses took over until there was only twelve minutes to go.  Honeydew and Blackzilla continued to guard the back for their respective teams, while Liza and Dimah Darling (Killbilly co-captain) kept their opposing jammers from breaking the pack.

It was Dimah and MNRG vet CleoSPLATra  who started the scoring again; Cleo took a nasty hit from Unskinny Wop but still stole three points before going to the box.  Dimah grabbed five off of the power jam, putting the score at 128-35.  Two jams later, Vuedoo scored four, while the MNRG’s co-captain Suzie – who had been hammered by some precise hits earlier in the quarter – gave back in kind, sending Vuedoo’s opposing jammer (Itty Bitty Bang) sprawling into the crowd (Be of good cheer, no beer was spilled.)  Moments later, Bang was sent to the penalty box.  

Minnesota took advantage as Hanna Belle Lector scored eight on the subsequent power jam…141-38.  Jawbreaker ended her evening with an eleven point monster jam (with opposing jammer Flyin’ Maiden taking four), and Suzie Smashbox and NWA jammer/blocker/pivot Saba Taj ended this fine match and brought the final score to 158-46.  

The Minnesota RollerGirls are next in action on November 22nd against longtime local rivals the 15th-ranked Dairyland Dolls of Madison. With Madison having eliminated Minnesota in the first bout of the recent Eastern Regionals, Minnesota will most certainly be looking for a little payback.

For more about the MNRG and the coming year, check out the MNRG fan podcast, The Fourth Eskate.
Additional reporting: Bat Wing, Frau Scientits, Dimah Darling

WFTDA Bout recap: (19) Dallas 104, (u) Northwest Arkansas 29

GRAND PRAIRIE, TX — The Dallas Derby Devils rode a combination of blazing jammer speed and thunderous defensive work to a convincing win over visiting Northwest Arkansas, 104-29.

The ladies from Arkansas managed to stay in the bout for the first half of the first period, but Dallas would eventually build an insurmountable lead, sticking resolutely to a jammer rotation of Anita Riot, Hot 4 Teacher and Keltic Kamikaze. The 40-minute bout kicked off with Anita Riot grabbing lead and speeding to a 8-3 win over NWA’s Mellow Yellow. The following jam was a bit closer for NWA, as nimble jammer Hot 4 Teacher also got lead but would only manage to increase her team’s lead by a point, with Apache Rose claiming 3 points to Teacher’s 4. On jam 3, though, Dallas’ Keltic Kamikaze went 8-0 over Itty Bitty Bang in a full-length jam, and the score stood at Dallas 20, Northwest Arkansas 6.

While NWA would keep the margin on the verge of manageable for the next few jams, it was jam 7 that proved to be the backbreaker – Anita Riot demonstrated her impressive speed in pulling a 10-0 double-grand-slam on Danger Darling, putting the game at Dallas 38, Northwest Arkansas 10. NWA’s best weapon at the jammer line, Mellow Yellow, would get a 4-0 over Hot 4 Teacher on the following jam, but that would prove to be NWA’s only jam win of the half. After Dallas closed out the period on two solid wins — a 9-0 for Keltic Kamikaze over Apache Rose and a 4-1 for Anita Riot over Itty Bitty Bang — the home team was sitting on a 51-15 lead.

WFTDA Bout Preview: (u) Northwest Arkansas @ (19) Dallas

Unranked Northwest Arkansas (NWA) takes on a daunting task on Saturday night, heading to Dallas to do battle with the 19th-ranked Dallas Derby Devils.