GAINESVILLE — It was good timing that enabled Krum’s Lady Cats to finish the regular season strong and earn a spot in the Class 3A playoffs.
Bad timing was losing junior Jordan Crawford, the team’s second-leading hitter and second-best server, on the eve of the playoffs.
After dropping Saturday’s night seedings-setting match with Gainesville 23-25, 25-16, 26-24, 21-25, 15-13, coach Stacey Lucas’ 28-14 third-seeded Lady Cats will face Frisco Lone Star in the bi-district round at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Lake Dallas High School.
Gainesville (31-11), which wound up tied with Krum for second place in District 9-3A, will face Celina in bi-district play at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Sanger.
After Crawford tore ligaments in her ankle during practice Friday, she has been ruled out for the rest of the season.
“When we lost one of our best players, that one change made me move everyone around,” Lucas said. “We now have a completely different lineup.”
Junior Riley Place and freshman Ashleigh Wolf were tried in Crawford’s place Saturday night. And despite the new-look lineup, the Lady Cats battled the Lady Leopards blow-for-blow in their second meeting in a week.
Gainesville rebounded from losing the first set, with Payton Cassidy serving the final three points as Gainesville rallied to win the third set and take a 2-1 lead.
Krum pushed the match to a fifth set with a 25-21 win, then fell 15-13 in the final frame.
Krum swept Gainesville 3-0 in Tuesday’s 9-3A finale, forging the tie at 4-4 in the district with the Lady Leopards, who won in a similar 3-0 sweep the first time the two met.
“Finally both teams were clicking on the same night,” Gainesville coach Laura Mehl said. “My girls have worked very hard this season and they deserved that win.”
Lucas said things could have been different if not for the loss of Crawford and the fact that libero Ariana Buchanan was forced to miss much of two games after an asthma attack.
“I think Kim Robinson did a good job for us on the outside,” Lucas said. “Machala Noack did a great job at net and on defense.”
Robinson, a senior, and Noack each logged 16 kills to lead Krum. Buchanan managed 24 digs — three more than Noack — and setter Paige Williams had 23 assists, with senior Justice Dominguez going up for three blocks.
For Gainesville, Whytneigh Duffie and Kiarah Manuel had 16 and 12 kills, respectively. Sarah Gerkin had 31 assists and Brittany Royal had five blocks.