GAINESVILLE — After getting swept in their regular season finale at Krum Tuesday, the Gainesville Lady Leopards knew they needed some positive momentum heading into the Class 3A playoffs.
They got it Saturday night.
Gainesville defeated Krum in five sets in a playoff for second place in District 9-3A.
The Lady Leopards (31-10 overall) will now face Celina in the bi-district round of the playoffs Tuesday at 7 p.m., at Sanger High School. It is Gainesville’s first trip to the playoffs since 2006.
Krum finishes third and will take on Frisco Lone Star in their bi-district playoff.
In beating Krum, Gainesville maintained a couple of trends from the season. They won at home (where they are now 13-1) and they won a match that went five sets (where they are 6-1 this season).
The match was as even as you would expect from two teams that finished tied with identical 4-4 district records and split their regular-season series.
Game one went back and forth. Gainesville had an early 13-9 lead after three kills from Whytneigh Duffie and an ace by Payton Cassidy. But Krum inched their way back and eventually tied things up 18-18. It was 23-23 after kills by Ariannah Kemp and Kiarah Manuel, plus a service point by Sarah Gerken, but Krum scored the final two points to pull out the opening-set win.
It looked like the wind was out of the Lady Leopards’ sails early in the second game as Krum raced out to a quick 8-3 lead. But a pair of kills by Duffie and another ace from Cassidy put Gainesville ahead 11-8. Later, Kemp served five-straight points to put GHS up 18-11. Gerken added four more service points and the Lady Leopards cruised to the 25-16 win.
Game three was almost a carbon copy of game one, but with a different result. Gainesville had an early 8-4 lead, only to see Krum rally. Despite kills by Manuel, Duffie, Kemp and Brittany Royal, Krum had a 23-21 lead. But Duffie found an open spot in the Krum defense to tie the score at 23-23. Krum scored the next point and was serving for the game, but another kill by Duffie tied things up, then Kemp and Duffie got the final two points on kills to give GHS the 26-24 win.
But on this night, nothing was going to be easy. Krum raced out to a 6-1 lead in the fourth game. But the Lady Leopards rallied again with Manuel doing most of the damage at the net with three kills and Duffie serving six-straight points to put the home team 18-14. But Krum outscored the Lady Leopards 11-3 from that point to win 25-21 and force the fifth and deciding game.
The Lady Leopards led throughout most of the final game. They were up 12-8 and looked to be in control, but Krum won the next five points to go ahead 13-12. But the Lady Cats were called for being in the net on the final two points and Gainesville pulled out the 15-13 win.