Krum coach Lynn Larson and her players stormed the court Tuesday after securing another trip to the Class 4A regional tournament. But that excitement was tempered by the reality that the Lady Bobcats are in the exact same spot they were in the last two seasons.
"We are hoping the third time is the charm," said Larson, whose team has lost back-to-back region semifinal matches. "At this point, we just need to go out there and finish this."
Krum (36-9) has done nothing but finish all year with a roster that features just one senior and no juniors. That poise was evident Tuesday as the Lady Cats bent but never broke to win a back-and-forth tussle with District 9-4A bunkmate Sanger 25-23, 25-21, 25-16 at Billy Ryan Gym.
The win was Krum's third over Sanger this season and gave the Lady Bobcats their third sweep of the postseason. North Texas commit Rhett Robinson tallied 18 kills and just four errors for Krum while adding four total blocks. Sophomore Reese Robinson added nine kills.
Krum will face Carthage, the team that ended its playoff run last year in five sets, at 8 p.m. Friday at Mesquite Poteet. The region final is set for 1 p.m. Saturday.
"As the season has gone along, these girls fall behind in a match but never get flustered," Larson said. "And this is really the way these matches typically go with Sanger. They're all hard. But Rhett did a great job and I thought our defense really did a good job."
The sweep hung a dark cloud over what was otherwise a supreme effort from Sanger. Gabbi Roelofs and Sydney Price had nine and eight kills, respectively, for the Lady Indians, who added seven aces as a team. Kaela Wilkerson had six kills.
That balance kept both teams from building more than a two- or three-point lead for most of the night. Even when one jumped out to a six- or seven-point lead, the other stormed right back.
A perfect example was the opening set, as Krum appeared to blow a tie game wide open with a 7-1 run. It was the largest lead of the night for either team up to that point. Sanger (22-21) came right back to tie it at 20, and with the score tied at 23 a few minutes later, Robinson delivered back-to-back kills to give her team the early edge.
Sanger again trailed by five to open the second set, but rallied and eventually took a 14-12 lead on a kill from Maddy Jacobs midway through the set. Krum reclaimed the lead but again only led by two points later in the set.
"I thought we played hard," Sanger coach Tammy Niemczyk said. "Every time we play Krum, it turns into a battle. Our girls never quit."
It wasn't until midway through the third frame that Krum's persistence began to weigh on the Lady Indians, who saw a two-point hole quickly expand to nine.
With a potential trip to the state tournament in sight, Larson said her team isn't worried.
"Our goal is to win this and move on," Larson said. "We'll just take it one match at a time."
STEVE GAMEL can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @NewspaperSteve.