SVRG, SCRG, and the SC groms after the bout. Photo credit: Jim Cottingham
The KillaBytes were full of excitement for their fourth official bout of the season, and all the better that they were facing the Harbor Hellcats from SVRG’s favorite friendly rival, the Santa Cruz Derby Girls. The anticipation continued to build as the announcement was made that the Civic Auditorium had sold out and the teams would be facing off in front of a packed house of more than 1,100 derby fans. The KillaBytes wanted to hold on to SVRG’s reign after the Dot.Kamikazes defeated SCDG’s Boardwalk Bombshells in a thrilling throwdown this past June; the Harbor Hellcats were equally motivated to take back the crown and send the Valley girls home with a loss.
Although this was the first showdown for these teams, several players had encountered each other on the rink before. A few KillaBytes had played against the Hellcats before when the Bytes helped fill out the roster for the Brentwood Brawlin’ Betties earlier this year. Also, both the KillaBytes and the Hellcats roster for this game featured several A/B swing players that had played against each other when the A-teams faced off in June. There was plenty of new blood, however; both teams also featured skaters making their official bout debuts: Satan’s Kitten, Belle Wringer, and Beth Sentence for the KillaBytes and Hallie Peña Popper and Astrid Avenger for the Hellcats. Going into the match, the teams were well-matched on skill, experience, and, yes, a little bloodlust.
The KillaBytes had been practicing as a team leading up to the bout, but some last minute roster changes rattled their nerves a bit. Aim DeKill managed to contract an ear infection from the SVRG Jell-O wrestling fundraiser the previous weekend, so the KillaBytes were short one of their captains and a powerful pivot. The team resolved to win one for their MamaByte, and alternate Feisty Irish stepped in for blocking duty. The team suffered another roster shakeup right before the game when Juicy K. Tore, who was set to block and jam, got a nasty case of shin splints during the warmup. Santa Cruz graciously dispatched Shamrock N. Roller to try to soothe the Juice, but she was fearful of a recurrence during the game. With great disappointment, she requested that the second alternate, Smack Dahlia, come out of the stands to take her place, but Smack was only permitted to block. Because of the last minute change, Smack’s only warmup consisted of the rollout during the team introductions.
Left: Skoot and Fox hold the Santa Cruz jammer while Postal Servix whips off of The Beast. Right: Smack Dahlia and Beth Sentence wall up to contain the Santa Cruz blockers. Photos: Jim Cottingham
Now down a jammer, the pressure was on the KillaByte jammer rotation. Zootown Throwdown kicked off the bout with a 9-0 shutout jam, quickly followed by a 4-0 jam by Postal Servix to get the KillaBytes off to a strong start. Over the course of the game, Zootown scored a remarkable 55 points, Servix snagged lead jammer 7 times, and CynTax delivered a decisive high-scoring jam in the second half that sealed SCDG’s fate. Feisty Irish and SKooter Ov’r also took the line once each for SVRG. Santa Cruz relied mostly on the speedy Liv N. Letdie, Pippi Hardsocking, Kiki Clash, and Cleopatra Catastrophe at the jammer line. It was also worth noting that throughout the bout, jammers from both teams were aggressive, leading to some hot jammer-on-jammer action. Servix and Feisty Irish both went after their opposing jammers, and Santa Cruz’s Liv N. Letdie frequently engaged Zootown while Pippi Hardsocking bounced several blockers.
The game featured some killer defense. Top left: Some of The Beast’s aftermath. Top right: Fox socks a wincing Pippi. Bottom left: Beast and Dirty put the squeeze on Liv N. Letdie. Bottom right: Pigeon executes a killer C-block on Postal Servix. Photos by Kelco (top left, top right, bottom left) and Jim Cottingham (bottom right).
With such a speedy and effective group of jammers, both teams’ defense was crucial in this game. Indeed, the game was filled with solid blocks, relentless waterfalls, and killer hits. Co-captain Steffen Razor typically ran the front of the pack, with Servix, Smack, and Feisty also serving pivot duty. Beth Sentence, Belle Wringer, and Satan’s Kitten walled up with the pivot and helped hold the line against SCDG’s persistent jammers—no small feat given that the Santa Cruz track has tighter turns than most tracks, and thus additional dexterity and precision is required. Mauly Anna and Dirty Thirty used their experience to communicate with their teammates and moved around the pack to address the local threat. Feisty Irish was a constant menace, singlehandedly containing jammers at the back of the pack, while Retox Fox sat on jammers if they tried to force their way through the pack. The Beast was as formidable a force as always, bouncing jammers and blockers alike and leaving a trail of fallen girls in her wake. She met her match in Santa Cruz’s powerful Pigeon, and the fours often battled it out at the back of the pack, helping their respective jammers while putting their opponents on the floor. Indeed, these two ladies kept the crowd going wild watching their handiwork.
Left: SKoot provides some offensive coverage to jammer Zootown. Right: Coach Panda looks on as Hue Refner ejects SKooter for her fifth penalty in the half. Photos: Jim Cottingham
SKooter Ov’r also did considerable blocking for the KillaBytes, using her positional blocking skills as well as some killer curving hits to floor some jammers. Unfortunately, her big hits attracted attention from the refs, and she got boxed all too frequently—as in five-times-in-one-half too frequently. SKoot became the first KillaByte to be ejected from a game for penalty accumulation. But, as the Santa Cruz announcers noted, she did it while maintaining sportswomanlike behavior, and so after Hue Refner gave her the thumb-over-the-shoulder, they graced her with a farewell lap while the scoreboard flashed, “BAD GIRL.”
Coaches Left Turn Only and Pandamonium. Their brains are so in synch that their outfits naturally match themselves. Photo: Nocklebeast
The ejection left SVRG down a blocker, but at this point in the game each team was fighting to keep five on the track. The penalty whiteboard was filled with players who were one minor away from a trip to the box, and both teams’ coaches selectively staffed their jams hoping to keep as many players on the track as possible. With less than fifteen minutes left to go in the game, the two teams were still trading off jams and keeping the score tight. At this point it was clear just how evenly matched these teams were on skill—now it was a matter of strategy. SVRG coaches Pandamonium and Left Turn Only were ON IT. With one eye on the scoreboard, one eye on the penalty board, one eye on the box, one eye on the bench, and one eye on the emerging Santa Cruz lineup (yes, collectively they MUST have at least five eyes), they were able to decide on, condense, and dispatch strategies in the mere seconds between each jam. Their efforts showed a superhuman attention to every detail of the game and in the last minutes, it was their guidance that helped the KillaBytes pull ahead of the Hellcats and bring the win back to the Valley.
Some Dot.Kamikazes and other SVRG supporters shake up the stands as they cheer on the KillaBytes. Photos: Jim Cottingham
The KillaBytes would like to thank first and foremost their amazing coaches, Pandamonium, Left Turn Only, and Pia Mess for preparing them for this game; our wonderful pack o’ zebras; our awesome SVRG cheering section, who stirred up the arena despite being outnumbered 10 to 1; and the gracious hostesses with the mostesses, the fantastic ladies of SCDG. I am not alone in saying this was the most fun bout of the season, and we have Santa Cruz to thank for it. Thanks to the Santa Cruz Derby Groms for putting on such an amazing half-time show: it is refreshing to see the derby girls of tomorrow carrying the torch for our sport. Thanks to all of the photographers and videographers who helped film the bout, especially our team photographer Jim Cottingham. Thanks again to all of our fans, sponsors, and supporters. The KillaBytes will see you at our next home bout in November!
Want to hear more about the bout? Hit up Killer Vee’s writeup here. She’s got some great jam-by-jam data.
You can see Jim Cottingham’s photos here, Nocklebeast’s here, and Kelco‘s here.