DALLAS, TX – The #5 Atlanta Rollergirls certainly did not want to find themselves in the 2pm game Sunday, but after suffering a heartbreaking 2-point loss to #4 Minnesota, the Dirty South found themselves matched up against #11 Houston Roller Derby. The rankings spread on this game was huge; Atlanta came in as the #13 team in the WFTDA, and Houston #36, so the game was predicted to be a blowout, but Houston did not just roll over for the Georgians, although lost 323-143.
Houston’s #89 Arrak-kiss gave Atlanta trouble throughout the whole game as a jammer seemingly built for smashing walls, instead of navigating through them. She was able to push even the strongest blockers out of position at speed, which is impressive considering the opposition was Atlanta. While Atlanta always displays incredible control and excellent positional blocking, they are also infamous for staggering power and a penchant for four-person defense. To name who was most successful would be to name the entire team of Atlanta blockers. Every player owned their space, and Houston’s.
Atlanta’s jammers did not need too much help. #247 Slams McKenzie was the first to put up big points for Atlanta, using timing effectively to dodge through the moving Houston pack. Dirty South was consistently able to add multiple-pass jams onto the board, even if Houston was able to answer and keep the game within 30 points for the first 14 jams. #1408 Instant Karma helped get Atlanta in a more comfortable lead, putting 18 points up in jam 16, and then Slams who earned another 15 points in the last jam of the first half. Slams was the top scorer for Atlanta, gaining lead 89% of her jams and scoring 84 points.
Going into the second period, the momentum was definitely on the Atlanta side with a doubled Houston score of 124-62.
Houston did not quit. In the first seven jams, they nearly doubled their own score from the first half. HRD relied heavily on blockers #31 2x Force and #51 Bustin Beaver, who found success in the pack by pulling their friends away from Atlanta just enough to control incoming jammers as much as possible.
Both teams had luck in drawing groups of penalties from their opposition at key moments. It was the first half where Houston had their luck with power jams lining up with multiple blocker penalties, but then Atlanta got to have their shot and clear lanes in the second half. Both teams were more penalty heavy than this tournament has seen: Atlanta had 37 blockers and 6 jammers penalized. Houston had 32 blocker penalties, 7 jammer penalties.
#06 Ana Cheng continued her strong weekend, putting up 81 points in the game and using her footwork to navigate over apexes and dip around outside lines. #69 Death by Chocolate countered the speed of Cheng and #213 Afro Dykee with timing and power, straight-up.
Houston may have put up big points at the start of the second half, but Atlanta outpaced them. Atlanta had 13 multi-pass jams in the 18-jam second period while Houston only had six. A run of 15+ jams from Dykee, Cheng, Slams, and #33 Trouble MakeHer really sealed the fate of Houston’s ranking points.
Atlanta took the win confidently, 323-143 although Houston went home with heads held high and an impressive performance. The Atlanta Rollergirls are already looking forward to next season and derby would be wise to keep their eyes open for what both these teams offer up in 2018.