DECATUR — If No. 14 Krum didn't have a target on its back before its match Tuesday night at No. 11 Decatur, it certainly does now.
The Lady Cats eked out a 22-25, 25-16, 25-22, 27-29, 15-9 victory over the Lady Eagles in a five-set thriller to stay unbeaten in District 9-4A play.
"We definitely have a target on our back now," Krum coach Lynn Larson said.
Krum's young squad can now see what a possible playoff road would look like after the close victory.
The Lady Cats ripped a whopping 60 kills in the match, led by Rhett Robinson's 23 and followed by her sister, Reese, who recorded 16. Rhett led the team in digs with 20. Paige Orsi added 19 digs, and Miranda Guffy recorded a team-high 28 assists.
Krum finished with a .166 hitting percentage.
Decatur fought back late in the first set to gain the advantage, trailing 20-16 before recording a 9-2 run to close out the set.
The Lady Cats stormed back in the second set, leading by as much as 14 before holding off a late push by Decatur.
Krum took a 2-1 match lead with a hotly contested third set in which neither team extended its lead beyond five points, and there were six ties before Krum pulled away late to win by three.
The Lady Cats seemed to have Decatur on its heels in the fourth set, hoping to close out the match, but the Lady Eagles stormed back down 22-19 before eventually extending the match with a 29-27 victory.
"We should've taken the fourth set, but our girls didn't buckle under the pressure in the final set," Larson said. "We made adjustments and they carried them out as planned.
"Decatur is a good team who made us earn every point we got tonight."
The teams have a longstanding rivalry, and the Lady Cats knocked Decatur out of last year's regional quarterfinals. Krum has three players from that squad on this year's team, and Larson says that's an advantage.
"Some of our young girls know the rivalry between the two of us, but they weren't on the team last season," Larson said. "It's odd to say, but I feel like their inexperience helps us in big games like that.
"There aren't many expectations. They just go out there and play, and tonight we battled."
Now everyone in 9-4A knows Krum (28-8, 4-0 district) — the lone unbeaten team in the district — is the team to beat, so it's likely to get everyone's best shot.
JIMMY ISBELL can be reached at 817-781-0379 and via Twitter @Jimmy_Isbell12.