COLUMBIA, SC – When these two teams met back in March, Jacksonville won 231-91. At the 2016 D1 International Playoffs after a back and forth game with 3 lead changes, Jacksonville won less decisively, 170-131, and left with a seeding deficit, sliding to #3 place from #2 tournament entry, but still confirming their place at Champs this year ahead of #4 Atlanta, who left at the position they entered.
Atlanta got off to a rough start with a quick penalty call against their jammer. By the time Atlanta’s Afro Dykee was released from the box, Jamsterella was already on her 3rd scoring pass. But then, just after returning to the track Afro Dykee was sent out again, this time on a forearm penalty. A full minute power jam in the first 2 minutes of play put Jacksonville ahead a solid 20-0.
From the start Jacksonville looked composed and united, comfortably pulling one blocker out to play offense before rejoining the tripod. Jacksonville also covered the track well by peeling the outside blocker off and resetting on the inside of the wall to catch Atlanta, once they had the jammer pressed against the line.
In the early jams of the game, Atlanta’s pack was slow to reform after receiving offense or after the jammer pulls back to reset. After the 3rd consecutive lead call and 43 unanswered points, Atlanta called a team time out. That time to refocus paid off and Atlanta was finally able to put 4 points on the board – a small increment, but no longer a close-out.
Following their first points, Atlanta put together a run and was able to take advantage of a power jam, closing the gap to Jacksonville to a much narrower 51-34. For now, the tables seemed to have turned and Atlanta was able to maintain tight formations and lock down the jammer.
As Atlanta picked up momentum, Jacksonville began to fall apart. Their blockers were not able to reform and were preoccupied with offense, forgetting to play defense – often leaving just one blocker to slow Atlanta’s jammer. Noticing the need to reset themselves, Jacksonville called a team time out, and began a new streak of their own with 4 lead calls in a row.
Soon momentum swung back in Atlanta’s favor and they closed the half with 6 lead calls in a row which allowed Atlanta to slowly chip away Jacksonville’s lead. At halftime, Jacksonville hung onto the lead with a respectable 31 point differential, at 96-65.
Atlanta started the second half with a pack advantage and a power start. The 2 blockers on the track for Jacksonville joined Atlanta’s 4 wall at the pivot line. Jacksonville’s blockers didn’t react at all as Atlanta’s jammer sprinted up the inside lane for lead, untouched.
Atlanta continued their run while Jacksonville struggled with penalties and miscues between jammer and pivot that created a series of ineffective star stashes. Finally Atlanta claimed the lead, 98-97, forcing a team time out by Jacksonville after 10 minutes in the second half, following a 33-1 point run.
After the time out Jacksonville retook the lead 101-98, and also retook the back line. The change in start position played into Jacksonville’s favor and helped their jammers find the space to use their speed and agility.
But soon after, Atlanta fired back and Slams McKenzie ushered in another lead change, 121-108.
The clock stopped at 9:59 after an awkward take down where both the blocker engaged, and jammer Trouble MakeHer were slow to get up. After some discussion, Trouble MakeHer was assessed a penalty. Jamsterella tried to call off the jam with the star in her hand at that point, allowing Trouble MakeHer to steal 4 points with an apex jump.
The game stopped for a double official review after Krispy Kreme-Her was sent to the box for a high block after running up the score for Jacksonville, 150-125. First, Jacksonville used their official review to request a repeal of the high block call, which was denied. Then Atlanta used their official review to request an expulsion for an egregious high block. In the end the high block call stood, but no one was expelled.
Jacksonville kept Atlanta on their initial pass the entire jam after that, and was able to add 7 more points with just over 2 minutes to play.
The penultimate jam was a 13 point run by Snot Rocket Science, who baited Atlanta’s entire wall to the edge of the track and cut back rapidly to the inside, this time shielded by their own blockers who successfully trapped Atlanta’s jammer until the jam was called off with just 30 seconds remaining on the game clock.
Both jammers scrambled in the pack in the final jam, held back behind strong walls. It looked as if Slams McKenzie, Atlanta’s leading scorer, was about to break free at one point, but she was assessed a penalty, resulting in Jacksonville earning lead and calling the jam once the clock expired.
After much back and forth, Jacksonville left the tournament with 3rd place, and have secured a trip to Portand for WFTDA Champs, with a 170-131 victory over Atlanta.