The Music City All Stars from Nashville Rollergirls of Nashville, TN, USA (seed #3, WFTDA #46) faced off against the Saddletramps of Tucson Roller Derby from Tucson, AZ, USA (seed #6, WFTDA #51) during Game 3 of the 2016 International WFTDA D2 Playoffs in Wichita. Nashville eked out a narrow win over the Tucson Saddletramps, and a slim three-point lead showed on the scoreboard at the game’s conclusion, 152-149.
The two teams had never met in sanctioned play, and the action on the track was back-and-forth for the first several jams, each team completing star passes, jammers committing track cuts, and sharing lead jammer status almost equally (seven for Nashville, five for Tucson). The Saddletramps worked for a strong footing, but blockers went to the box on several occasions, leaving Tucson short on the start line. Blocker Trouble Shooter from Tucson went to the box on multi-player penalties three times in the first half, and ended the half with four trips total.
It looked to be that Nashville would assert their seeding, as jammer Lady Fury scored a 22-point jam with just over 17 minutes left in the first half, 59-37 over Tucson’s Saddletramps. A timeout by Tucson just after Fury’s jam allowed for a momentum shift that saw Tucson scoring 59 points to Nashville’s one in the following 10 jams. Jammer Mystery Meat scored 20 points to swing the momentum to the ladies in white, as jammer Zip Drive never made it out of the pack. Mystery Meat’s jam was followed up by Death Proof’s 15-point jam.
Nashville’s blockers struggled valiantly against the jammers from Tucson, however. Blocker Tear O’Bite held Death Proof, along with teammates Polly Pushy Pants and Phantom Power. Their efforts were thwarted as Zip Drive got lead but was forced to call it off, a scoreless jam. Lady Fury hit the track in the last jam of the period, scored 9 on an apex jump, and the half ended with the Saddletramps up 97-73.
“We have a lot of tools, and we realized after the first half that we’d have to adjust, use different tools and different strategies,” Nashville jammer Zip Drive said.
The blocking strategy that Nashville employed at the start of the second half worked for a full 55 seconds, as each jammer struggled through the pack. Mystery Meat got lead, though, and then was relatively untouched, scoring 14 quick points. The point spread stayed near the 40-point mark for the opening nine minutes of the second half. Nashville jammers Cruella LaVelle and Zip Drive managed lead status, but were forced to call it off due to quick transitions from the Tucson blockers, especially Trouble Shooter, Blaxican Bomber, and Olive Jukes.
As the clock wound down, it looked like Tucson would be the first team to upset standings at the D2 Playoffs. Two low blocks by pivot-turned-jammer Blaxican Bomber gave Nashville jammer Zip Drive the opportunity to pick up 19 points with just 3:56 left on the clock. The lead, which had been steadily at 36 points, dwindled to a mere 17. Blaxican got lead coming out of the penalty box against jammer Ramona D Flowers from Nashville in the following jam, but a 15-point run from Cruella LaVelle cut the spread to just two points with 37 seconds on the clock. Nashville made a 39-point comeback to win in the final strides of the game, as Zip Drive took lead, grabbed five points and called the jam off. The period clock expired, and the Music City All Stars were up by three, 152-149.
“Going into the last jam, I felt more relieved with how well we’d done in the jams leading up to it,” Zip Drive said. “I was calm and proud going into that last jam.”
Nashville Rollergirls move on to play the winner of Game 4 at 8 p.m. Saturday. Tucson Roller Derby moves to the consolation bracket to play Chicago Outfit Roller Derby at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Nashville Rollergirls (#3) 152
Tucson Roller Derby (#6) 149