After reaching the state final four twice in a three-year span, Coral Reef coach Yasmin Ortiz knew it was time to rebuild.
Two years later, the Barracudas are back among the county’s top teams.
Despite fielding a squad that returned only one part-time starter this season, Coral Reef showed the poise of a veteran team Tuesday night by rallying from a two-game deficit to beat host Southwest 22-25, 23-25, 25-20, 25-22, 15-10 in a Region 4-9A quarterfinal.
The Barracudas (15-7) will travel to face Ferguson, a state semifinalist last season, at 7 p.m. Friday.
“I’ve rarely in my nine years had a team as committed to getting better as this team,” Ortiz said. “These girls were prepared for every block, every pass and at the right place and right time on the court to be able to win this match.”
Coming off a district championship victory over rival Ferguson last week, Southwest (20-6) entered Tuesday’s contest confident it could secure a rematch with the Falcons in the next round.
The Eagles edged the Barracudas in the first two games behind Mia and Mya Thomas’ attacks as well as Annabel Fernandez.
But thanks to consistent quality play from sophomore Stefany Desroches, who finished with 28 kills and four blocks and junior Kristin Davis, who posted 11 kills and two blocks, Coral Reef swung the momentum in its favor.
Junior setter Valeria Salvaggio paced Coral Reef’s attack with 42 assists, and junior Lisa Mesa anchored the defense with 13 digs.
▪ Region 3-9A quarterfinal — Cypress Bay d. Douglas (25-19, 25-11, 25-9): If Cypress Bay coach Jennifer Meyers was worried that holding Senior Night for her eight seniors might be a distraction and cause her team to lose focus, she didn’t have to wait long to find out.
Her Lightning players came out with the precision of a surgeon and dispatched visiting Douglas in barely over an hour to win their Region 3-9A quarterfinal match in straight sets.
Cypress Bay which has suffered three consecutive frustrating regional final losses to Jupiter the past three years, moved its record to 22-2 and will host district rival Western for the fourth consecutive year in a regional semifinal on Friday night.
“We had to reschedule senior night because of the Hurricane a few weeks ago and that’s always a concern because there are a lot of emotions and having as many seniors as I do [eight] you’re always concerned,” Meyers said. “But the girls did a great job of coming out and taking care of business [Tuesday].”
The Lightning jumped out to quick leads in each set and never trailed all night.
“The fact that it was Senior Night made us that more anxious to get out there and play well and I actually think that helped us to really play well,” said senior captain Jordan Kron, who led her team with 11 kills. “The last three years have been tough but we’ve worked really hard and I think we’re mentally ready to get past that hurdle.”
Douglas, which lost to Cypress Bay in straight sets in the regular season as well, finished 12-7.
▪ Region 4-9A quarterfinal — Ferguson d. Palmetto (25-16, 25-21, 25-13): Ferguson rolled over Palmetto in three sets in the Region 4-9A quarterfinals.
The Falcons came into the match following a tough loss to rival Southwest in districts, but they will now look to build off momentum heading into the next round of the playoffs.
“I told the six seniors, there is no tomorrow, you have to want it today and go through today,” Ferguson coach Greg Shanower said. “They came out with motivation and experience.”
Sophomore Melanie Cuervo had a match-high 32 assists for Ferguson, and senior Michelle Cuervo had 20 kills. Ferguson finished the match with seven aces, which Shanower said was a huge focus point for the team.
“One thing we did is miss 22 serves,” he said. “We have to play smart, so we went out to focus on our serves and our passing during practice and it showed tonight.”
▪ Region 4-9A Quarterfinal — West Broward d. Miami Beach (25-12, 25-16, 25-12): With five starters out injured, Miami Beach proved no match for host West Broward as the Bobcats rolled to a straight set win over the Hi-Tides. Beach, which has now been eliminated by WB three of the last four years, finished its season 13-4.
West Broward will either host Pembroke Pines Charter or travel to Krop for a regional semifinal on Friday.
▪ Region 4-5A quarterfinal — Westminster Christian d. MAST 25-16, 25-9, 25-14: A well-balanced offense and consistent play from numerous players helped the Warriors (23-4) advance. Westminster will host Gulliver Prep in the regional semifinals on Friday.
Priscilla Hernandez led the Warriors with 11 kills, five aces and six digs. Nikkia Benitez added nine kills, four aces and seven digs. Saskia Hernandez had seven kills with no errors and seven digs. Natalia Martinez tallied three blocks, and five kills. Setters Quinn Blanco and Ingrid Savola ran the offense with 14 assists and 12 assists, respectively.
▪ Region 4-5A quarterfinal — Pine Crest d. St. John Paul (25-6, 25-22, 25-6): Ariana Altieri 12 kills, 2 aces, 3 digs. Kylie Bruder 27 assists, 2 aces, 2 digs. Shari Stenglein 4 kills, 5 aces, 4 digs.
▪ Region 4-8A quarterfinal — St. Thomas Aquinas d. Dwyer (25-14, 25-10, 25-9): Kelsey O’Loughlin 22 assists, 2 digs, ace, 6 points. Jada Gardener 7 kills, dig. STA 26-2.
▪ Region 4-5A quarterfinal — Calvary Christian d. North Broward Prep (25-12, 25-12, 25-13): CC (18-4): Nicole Decker 12 kills, 4 digs, 3 points, 2 blocks. Jessie Underwood 29 assists, 7 digs, 6 points, 5 kills, 2 blocks, 2 aces. Kaitlyn Green 8 kills, 2 aces, 2 points, 2 blocks. NBP: Taylor Lambert 9 kills.
▪ Region 4-7A quarterfinal — St. Brendan d. Central (25-7, 25-7, 25-9) :Nikki Garcia 8 aces, 5 digs. Daniela Piloto 7 aces, 2 digs. Lourdes Saravia 5 digs. Grace Calienes 3 aces 2 digs.
▪ Region 4-5A quarterfinal — Gulliver d. La Salle (25-17, 25-18, 25-23): Isa Lamus 18 kills, 1 ace, 3 blocks. Nat Mouawad 3 aces, 7 digs. Carly Wood 4 kills.