Down 8-3 in the third set of a 1-1 match after Ferguson scored seven consecutive points, Coral Reef’s volleyball team made adjustments and regrouped, something it has done all season.
Bouncing back with four points of their own, the host Barracudas went on a 10-5 run on their way to besting the Falcons, 3-1 (25-17, 18-25, 25-20, 25-23), Tuesday night in the 4-8A regional quarterfinal.
“It means everything,” said senior captain and setter Daniela Leal, who finished with 11 kills, two blocks, 24 assists and 11 digs. “Me as well as the rest of the team, we’ve been training so hard to have that one common goal of wanting to go far this season, and I think that really showed today. We came out of that second set and realized we have to push harder and we decided whoever wants it most is going to win the game.”
In the first set, the Barracudas (23-5) came back from an early 3-0 deficit and broke out to a 21-16 advantage before closing out on a 4-1 run.
Ferguson (19-8) captured the second set, leading by as many as 10 points thanks to a 20-13 run after a 5-5 score. Daniela Suarez recorded eight kills and two blocks, while Annika Reczek collected 10 kills and two blocks for the match.
Following a back-and-forth third set, the Barracudas jumped out to a five-point lead and never relinquished it, solidifying the victory despite several Falcon runs that made it a one-point difference late in the fourth set.
Junior outside hitter Adara Anselmo produced 13 kills, one block and 17 digs. Senior opposite hitter Baylee Waterman contributed 13 kills, three blocks and 11 digs in the winning effort.
Coral Reef will face a familiar opponent next Tuesday in the regional semifinal — Lourdes, which beat Palmetto. That match will also tie for the furthest the Barracuda program has ever reached in the postseason (also the regional semis in 2010).
The past two years, Coral Reef and the Bobcats split matches in the regional quarterfinal, with Lourdes winning in 2011 and the Barracudas in 2010.
“They realize it’s do-or-die, and when the game is on the line, especially for my three seniors that are on the lineup, they battle it out,” fifth-year coach Yasmin Ortiz said. They’re not done. They don’t want to be done. They’ve been working four years for this and that’s what we’re fueling with right now.”
• Region 4-8A quarterfinal – Lourdes d. Palmetto 25-20, 23-25, 25-10, 25-10: You can call it a happy coincidence that Lourdes (22-8, 10-2) avenged last year’s season-ending loss against Palmetto, defeating the Panthers in the Region quarterfinal at Columbus.
Bobcats coach Pedro Penate is content just to call it a win.
“We don’t focus on revenge or anything like that,” said Penate, whose team lost 3-1 to Palmetto in the playoffs last season. “We’re focused on where we’re playing and getting to the next step.”
The Bobcats fought off rallies by Palmetto (17-7, 13-2) and their own spate of miscues to win in four sets. Michele Marenus dominated the front of the net on her way to 15 kills and 10 digs, while set-up partner Annie Ortiz logged 25 assists and a two aces.
In the final set, Marenus dueled with her counterparts, Palmetto outside hitters Makayla Stephens (5 kills) and Taylor David (13 kills). Marenus had two identical powerful spikes to score the 22nd and 23rd points of the game. By then, the Bobcats had a commanding 13-point lead.