JACKSONVILLE, FL – The #2 seed Denver Roller Derby laid out a commanding performance over the upstart 10 seed Charlottesville Derby Dames in game 5 of D1 playoffs in Jacksonville Friday afternoon, outmaneuvering the Dames at almost every turn and demonstrating why the Mile High Club is currently #5 in the WFTDA.
Charlottesville came out strong in the first half of game play, especially considering the major disparity in ranking between the two teams. Charlottesville relied on strong performances from a stable of 6 jammers (which eventually expanded to 8 by game’s end) to get through Denver’s intimidating defensive formations. Spank Puncherella, B-One Bomber, Mia Machete,and River Styx Phoenix were standouts in the field, with pivot Miller-Miller and Tippi Headlock throwing in solid performances to compliment them.
The Dames would also come to rely heavily on star passes to get jammers through and force Denver to call off jams after one or two scoring passes. The Mile High Club adapted quickly to the strategy and often made it difficult for pivots to break free after the passes were completed.
The game was ultimately a stark example of the experience of Denver versus the newly minted D1 level Charlottesville team (they had been #88 this time last year, marking a meteoric rise). Charlottesville consistently struggled to make fast transitions between defense and offense, and often found their packs spread out rather than cohesive and covering the track. Denver’s jammers Sharpless, Blackman, Wilhelm, and Dezellem were able to take advantage of the disarray to put up big points throughout, and totaled just 6 jammer penalties between them.
It was four jams into the game before Charlottesville was able to put points on the board, thanks to a back block call on Blackman that gave Spank Puncherella a 14 point power jam opportunity. That bit of momentum saw B-One Bomber grabbing the Dames’ first lead status of the game in the very next jam, but she would eventually pass the star—one of at least two instances of Charlottesville passing while lead—as Denver’s defense broke apart the opposing team’s efforts at offense. The Mile High Club ended up scoring 24 points to Charlottesville’s 4 on the jam, a pattern that would emerge more and more during the second half of the game as well.
By the half, Denver led 175-60, still representing an impressive opening salvo from the Charlottesville team. Denver was in no mood to see the trend continue and came out of the gate even stronger in the second period. Denver kept Charlottesville scoreless for 11 of the 12 jams at the beginning of the half.
Fatigue and relative inexperience really took their toll on the Dames in the latter half, as blockers peeled off to attempt offense for a stuck jammer before the pack had locked down Denver’s own, giving agile skaters like Sharpless and Blackman ample opportunity to spin and launch themselves up the inside or outside line.
Charlottesville’s Forty Ounce Bounce proved herself to be a blocker to watch, however, catching Denver’s jammers on several occasions for massive hits to the in- and outfields. Too often, though, the rest of the pack spread themselves thinly on the run-backs and allowed jammers to pass through with minimal resistance.
Denver proved themselves a force to be reckoned with, adaptable and incredibly fast on transitions, with a final score of 379-83.
Denver goes on to play Jacksonville Saturday at 8pm (EDT).
Charlottesville, already guaranteed to finish at a higher seed than as they entered, will play Saturday at 4pm versus the winner of Game 7.
Catch up on more recaps, scores, and bracket updates at Jacksonville Central.