KRUM — In the third set of Krum’s nondistrict match against Ponder on Tuesday night, the Lady Cats were two points away from picking up a straight-set victory against their old Class 2A rivals.
Ponder rallied to extend the match for another set. But in that fourth set, Krum did what it couldn’t in the third and closed out the Lady Lions for a 25-17, 25-22, 23-25, 25-14 victory at Bennie Ennis Gym.
Krum senior outside hitter Jordan Crawford had a match-high 20 kills to lead the Lady Cats to their fourth win in five matches.
“In the middle of a rally, if things are out of system, she’s definitely our go-to person to get a kill when we need it,” Krum coach Lynn Larson said of the senior.
Sophomore outside hitter Ashleigh Wolf and senior Savannah Brinkley each had eight kills in the victory for Krum (21-9). Senior libero Machala Noack had a season-high 32 digs.
Crawford had almost half of the team’s 45 kills, a number Larson said was one of the highest posted this season. Crawford had a chance to pad her totals after Ponder (14-8) pushed the match to a fourth set.
Krum was leading 23-21 in the third set before Ponder begin to reel off one point, then another, and then two more. Larson stood motionless on the sideline as her team gave up four straight points, and walked across to sit on the adjacent bench for the fourth set.
Larson said that if it was district play she would have called a timeout in that situation. But since District 9-3A play won’t start for Krum until Tuesday, Larson allowed her team to work through that stretch.
“I’ve been talking about it for two weeks,” Larson said. “When you’re better skilled than the other team, they’re still good enough to beat you if you’re going to make errors and score for them.”
Ponder will start District 9-2A play Friday against Peaster. In the Lady Lions’ last nondistrict tuneup, Ponder coach Cindy Thornton said, her team didn’t do a good job on defense of transitioning into offense.
Krum made a conscious effort of hitting the ball away from Ponder’s Tori Alexander. The Lady Lions were led by setter Sage Stover’s 12 kills.
“They were able to get around our blockers and kept us a little bit off balance for the rest of the night,” Thornton said. “They figured out where we weren’t, and that’s where they put the ball.”
At the outset of Tuesday night’s match, both sides of Krum’s gym roared for two teams resuming a storied rivalry that changed when Krum moved up to Class 3A in 2012. Early in the first set when Ponder scored a point, Thornton slightly leaped and threw her hands in the air as the ball landed on the court.
The 3A school went home with the win on a night featuring two programs with similar origins and similar plans for the future.
“We built our programs around the same time, but that winning mentality is developing within our players,” Thornton said. “We’re working on it.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @Ben_Baby.