PHILADELPHIA, PA – Both #1-ranked Victorian Roller Derby League and #5 Denver Roller Derby won their games yesterday to get here, and each proved something in their initial performances. Against Montréal, Victoria showed what a machine they could be defensively, but also that they can be penalty prone. Denver justified their round one bye after taking #4 Angel City out 196-166, but also that Scald Eagle’s scoring ability led that force.
VRDL and the Mile High Club hadn’t played each other since the 2015 Big O where Victoria won 150-115. This time around Denver could barely score and Victoria took them out by 222 points, a bigger spread than what they had with #9 Montréal. The Aussies attacked every vulnerability that Denver showed, and killed their Mile Hydra dream with a 287-65 victory.
Victoria and Denver both had very clean Playoff performances this year, and it continued into this matchup with Denver accruing 18 total penalties while both gave up six jammer penalties. With most skaters on the track at all times, it made jams very defensively heavy and long.
Christy Demons set the tone with a 24-point jam while Wilhelm was held up, finally getting the star out with a pass to the pivot. Scald Eagle took lead status over Lady Trample next and raced to the pack for four points. It wasn’t until 20 minutes later that Denver could earn another lead status, although not a completely scoreless streak, and two jams later Denver snuck in one point after Klein passed the star to Leah Davidson.
Every move Victoria made was decisive and at the jam start, everyone would shift in the pack when the five-second warning was called. It often meant that VRDL encased the Denver defense, opening the inside line for their jammer to sprint out. This was especially effective while the Mile High Club repeatedly started jams short one blocker. After Dani Darko aided Ivy K’nivey’s exit from the pack, Bicepsual caught on to Denver’s star passes and stopped Davidson at the front of the pack. After ten minutes of play, Victoria led 54-9.
With Victoria owning lead status at a 90% rate in the first half, Denver was constantly caught up switching between offense and defense. That left them flustered and sometimes could only make brief contact on the passing jammer. Blackman never gave up, however, and would race to the front of the pack every time for one last attempt. Her lateral movement as a blocker was excellent and every jammer was guaranteed to deal with her more than once per pass.
Victoria made the most of a couple Denver jammer penalties later in the half by icing them in the box and accruing multiple double-digit jams. With 12 minutes left, Victoria broke the century mark while the Mile High Club only had a baker’s dozen points. As the game wore on, Denver had a harder time reforming and Victorian jammers just had to juke through a string of bridged blockers.
Akers led the way for Scald Eagle which finally earned them a second lead status, and while Victoria recycled her back on the scoring pass, they broke up the Denver defense and sprung IvyK’nivey. The pressure forced Scald to call it off with only three points and VRDL led 143-17.
Momentum picked back up for Victoria and while Bicepsual or Lorrae Evans stayed patient and caught the jammer to slow them down, Denver kept going for swinging hits which would just bounce the jammer around and not stop them. Denver applauded each other for a 0-0 jam and then added four points after a jam had no lead status and the star was passed to Akers. In the last jam of the half, IvyK’nivey let the jam continue while she burned the clock on her two blockers in the box, but Cotten was able to outscore her 14-12. Denver was already in a deep hole, however, and trailed Victoria 173-35 at the break.
Scald was the only one to make headway with lead status or force the call off when out of the pack second. Gypin got lead twice later in the game but not one Victorian jammer had less than 70% lead and Christy Demons topped the list with 100% and 84 points.
The pack continued to jostle and move at the jam starts, and Victoria continued to squeeze the Denver pack and get their jammer out first. Denver was able to sneak in a few more lead statuses this half, but VRDL was in full control of the game. Things got messy and a string of jammer penalties for Denver prompted an Official Review. They retained it after removing an illegal procedure on Klein during a star pass.
The last jam went to the very last seconds of the game with a slow jammer fight by both teams and Gypin only escaping and earning lead status as the game ended. With a final score of 287-65, Victoria advances to the Championship game for the very first time. They will face #2 Rose City tomorrow at 6pm.
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