LINCOLN, NE — 6 seed Atlanta came into the second quarterfinal game against 3 seed Houston with a huge incentive for a win — keeping their hopes alive to participate in the WFTDA Championships tournament they’ll be hosting in a month. The Georgia crew did exactly what they needed to, utilizing remarkably clean play, very tough team defense and a 70-point performance from The Merchant of Menace to eject Houston from the advancement rounds, 165-104.
Menace got most of her scoring support from Atlanta jammers Jammunition (37 points) and Hollicidal (30 points). On the Houston side, Death By Chocolate battled to a hard-fought 47 points in a losing effort, primarily supported by Brandi Brown (24 points) and Beverly Kills (21).
Bout stats via Rinxter.
Low seed Atlanta established control of both the scoreboard and the pack speed quite early. Atlanta’s jammer Merchant of Menace got the game’s first lead jammer call barely two seconds into the action and claimed 6-0; her teammate Hollicidal made it two natural grand slams in a row with a followup 10-0.
Tight ATL defense keyed by Queen Loseyateefa and Wild Cherri kept Houston off the board for the first five minutes, where Brandi Brown finally moved the board from 21-0 to 21-3. But there was still almost nothing doing offensively for Houston; they’d be blanked again for four more minutes before Death By Chocolate picked up a 4-0 to make it 30-4 Atlanta with 21 minutes left in the first half.
Both teams seemed to tighten up their defense, with generally clean play keeping ten skaters on the floor for most of the action — Atlanta was skating particularly clean, with only one box trip in the first 13 jams. That made points fairly hard to come by over the next sequence. Houston’s Brandi Brown finally got Houston’s first multiple-pass jam by going 8-0 with 18 minutes left to make it 35-12 Atlanta, but once again Atlanta handed Houston a series of goose eggs to follow up.
With the score 49-12 Atlanta and 12:30 in the half, Houston jammer Beverly Kills pulled a smooth 360 to sneak up the inside for lead jammer and Houston’s first points in five minutes — but could only claim 2-0. Timely offensive blocking from Atlanta’s Switchblade Siouxsie sprung Hollidical for a 4-0, and going into the last ten minutes of the first half, Atlanta had very slowly but efficiently built a 53-14 lead.
A few jams later, with the score 61-23, ATL’s Merchant of Menace rode a strong defense of Wild Cherri, Agent Maulder, Ozzie Kamakazi and Belle of the Brawl to put up a full-length 19-0 over Mistilla — a particularly demoralizing jam for Houston, as Merchant had nearly equaled their entire game total in two minutes. It stood at 80-23 at the end of that frame; Houston managed to get a bit of momentum with a 19-4 run over the final three jams of the half to go into the locker room on a score of 84-42 Atlanta.
Queen Loseyateefa was once again a key element of the Atlanta defense on the second half opener as she led a crew that utterly stuffed Houston jammer Brandi Brown for a full two minutes; the Merchant of Menace dropped a 19-0 that made it a 104-42 game.
The first power jam of the game didn’t come until 10 minutes into the second half, with Atlanta’s Hollicidal hitting the penalty box and opening the floor for Houston’s DBC to rack 19 — but DBC was boxed herself at the end of the run. The jam ended with Houston creeping up at 115-77 — but Jammunition erased the majority of DBC’s run with a 15-0 on the power jam flip. With 15:26 to go, it was 130-77 Atlanta; Houston blocker Goldie Bloxx fouled out at that point.
That was the only jam of the entire game that saw jammers go to the penalty box. With both teams getting back to the generally clean play that had typified the first half, Atlanta’s significant point cushion proved to be enough to coast to victory. Houston mixed up their jammer rotation with more Death By Chocolate than the first half and added some jams from hard-hitting Freight Train, allowing them to play Atlanta mostly evenly for the final 15 minutes — but they needed a lot more than draws.
Going into the last three minutes, Houston had only cut 7 points off the Atlanta lead since the power jams and were left hoping for a miracle to get out of a 146-100 hole — but when Atlanta’s Merchant of Menace rolled to 19-4 over a Big Bad Voodoo Dollie locked up by Alassin Sane and Ozzie Kamakazi, the victory was certain. One jam later, Atlanta claimed the win, 165-104.
Atlanta reaches the semifinals for the third year in a row and moves on to play the winner of Kansas City / No Coast on Saturday at 4pm; Houston will play Tallahassee Saturday at noon.