Walla Walla Sweets and Nerve Agents roller girls form a wall and jammer lookout in anticipation of potential scoring action Saturday night at the YMCA.
WALLA WALLA — The season opener for the Walla Walla Sweets Rollergirls proved a grueling and exciting first bout, but it was also a trouncing for the home team as the Sweets lost to the Lava City Rollergirls of Bend, Ore., 262-111.
“It was a very hard-hitting bout,” Raquel “Roc-N-Decker” Stapleton, who was the Sweets’ first lead jammer for the night when she took the third jam, said. “Super intense. Neither team was giving up,”
As for the first two jams, they went to Lava City, as did most of the jams for the night. It wasn’t that the Sweets’ jammers got outskated, but that the Sweets’ blockers faced tactics by Lava City blockers that opened up holes in the Sweets’ defense and left their jammers trailing for much of the night.
“They did quite a bit more offense that we did,” Sweets blocker Greer “Luz Canon” Buchanan said. “And they would come in and mess with us when we were blocking and that is something we need to work on. What I would like to do is learn how to defend against that.”
Sweets team captain Nikki “Nik Yo’ Face” Williams knew the bout would be their toughest of the season, but what she wasn’t expecting was the excessive penalties they would face, as well as Lava City’s ability to score big when they had the only jammer on the track.
“That kills you,” Williams said. “The more power jams they have, the more points they are going to rack up. And that is a terrible feeling.”
It took Lava City about 15 minutes to establish a strong 20-point lead over the Sweets, and they kept it for most of the first half.
Then, just before the half ended, a couple big jams for Lava City pushed the halftime score to a 48-point lead for Lava City at 113-65.
Early into the second half, the Sweets were able to close the gap to 37 points. But that’s as close as they got, as Lava City kept taking jams, capitalizing on penalties and using some backward skating techniques that left Sweets blockers wonder how to defend against a skater who was facing them.
“I think we will work on that more. It kind of throws you off a little,” Stapleton said.
Williams added the Sweets will have to work on endurance and improving blocker techniques to better match teams like Lava City in the future.
“They would use their hips and hit me out, but they would make sure they would follow through with all of their hits,” Williams said.
In spite of finishing with a final point spread of 151, all but the last five minutes of the bout proved intense and entertaining due, in part, to the new league rules that eliminated double whistle starts and minor penalties.
“I thought the team did really well,” Buchanan said. “It was our first bout. I have to say I am very proud of us. We played our game and we played it well.”