A2D2 took the South by storm last weekend during their trip to Asheville, North Carolina. Both the Arbor Bruising Company and the Brawlstars made the 9+ hour drive down for a full day of derby on Saturday, June 4.
First the Brawlstars (#40) took on the Carolina Rollergirls All-Stars (#61) of Raleigh, North Carolina, in a private sanctioned game hosted by the Blue Ridge Rollergirls. Despite the ranking difference, the Brawlstars knew they were in for a tough game--and they were right! Halftime had the Brawlstars leading 76-43, showing it to be a relatively low-scoring game resulting from strong defense on both sides. The Brawlstar jammers were the ones to shine in the second half, nearly tripling the team's score, and the Brawlstar blockers were able to hold Carolina to only twice their halftime score. Brawlstars pocketed one win with a final score of 224-86, which was a greater victory than was originally predicted by sources such as Flat Track Stats. Overall, the top scorer for the Brawlstars was Lezzie Arnaz and the jammer with highest percentage of jams as lead jammer was Fracture Mechanics, who dominated the track throughout the game both as a blocker and with the star.
But that game was just the beginning! Moving on to public gameplay, the Blue Ridge Rollergirls hosted a doubleheader at their rad downtown venue, the U.S. Cellular Center. The first game up was the A2D2 Bruisers versus the Blue Ridge B-Team, the French Broads. The Bruisers took the lead early on and put a comfortable distance between themselves and Blue Ridge in the first half, entering halftime leading 157-41. They were strong and consistent in the second half, ending with a big win of 311-93, trouncing the expected spread and keeping Blue Ridge to nearly half of their expected points according to Flat Track Stats.
The final game of the day was the public bout between the A2D2 Brawlstars (#40) and the charter team of the host league, the Blue Ridge Rollergirls. After just a few hours of rest, the Brawlstars were ready to jump back in and play some more derby--this time in front of a cheering crowd! The Brawlstar jammers racked up 125 points in the first half, and those first thirty minutes were a stellar demonstration of the Brawlstars' locked-down and in-control defense, with the opposing team scoring only 14 points by halftime. But the second half was a new game, and Blue Ridge made smart adjustments to their play, including noticeable improvements to their offense. Combined with increased penalties for the Brawlstars, this led to Blue Ridge scoring significantly more points in the second half than they did in the first, but it wasn't enough to take the win from the determined Brawlstars. The final score landed at 230-93, again a better point spread than expected for the skaters from Ann Arbor. The game against Blue Ridge saw Lezzie Arnaz as the top scoring jammer for the second game that day, and highest percentages of jams as lead jammer went to Terror Misu.
Ranked #40 at the end of May, these two victories will boost Ann Arbor’s standing in the WFTDA rankings, pushing them farther into D1, which covers teams 1-40. These top 40 teams will compete in Division One Playoffs in September. In the 2015 season the Brawlstars surprised the derby world with their rapid ascent in the rankings, coming very close to Division Two Playoffs and only missing it by a few spots when they ended the season as #64. In the last year, they have been diligently training to secure a spot in playoffs, hoping to give a strong showing as part of D2, but after racking up win after win in 2016 (losing only one game, in March against Ohio Roller Derby) it is very likely they will skip over D2 entirely and make their WFTDA playoffs debut in D1. In fact, with recent games taken into account, it is possible that Ann Arbor will surpass the Detroit Derby Girls in the WFTDA rankings, which would be not only a first for Ann Arbor, but a first for ANY Michigan roller derby team!
A2D2 had a blast during their time in Asheville. Blue Ridge was an amazing host league, and both Blue Ridge and Carolina were tough opponents who made our skaters work hard for their wins. A2D2 played great derby, made new friends, and swept the weekend, bringing home three wins. Onward and upward!
Slamlet is a co-captain and trainer for the Brawlstars, and when she isn't playing roller derby you can find her reading novels about the end of the world, narrating the internal dialogue of video game characters, and writing feminist rants. Check out her blog here: https://inknotblood.wordpress.com