Experience in lengthy matches often against each other is what has made the Ferguson and Lourdes girls’ volleyball rivalry one of the most entertaining this season in Miami-Dade County.
Get ready for the decisive chapter.
Both squads fought off tough opponents Wednesday night to advance to the regional semifinals and earn a chance to play each other for the fourth time this season.
Ferguson held off a resilient Coral Reef squad on the road to win in five games in its Region 4-8A quarterfinal. Lourdes, meanwhile, defeated Palmetto in four games at Columbus to set up the rematch.
The two squads will play Tuesday in the Region 4-8A semifinals at 8 p.m. at Columbus.
Lourdes leads the season series 2-1 winning the most recent meeting in five games to claim the District 15-8A title.
“There’s not much more either of our coaching staffs can do because we know each other so well at this point,” Lourdes coach Pedro Penate said. “The girls just have to come out and play a great game. It should be a great one.”
After a close first game, Ferguson used its height at the net and quickness to take control and cruise to a second-game win. The Falcons appeared ready to win the third game with ease, leading 22-12 before Coral Reef scored 10 points in a row to tie it at 22. But Daniela Diaz and Dominique Barnes each had kills that put the game away.
Led by Kristine Rios, Coral Reef rallied from a 19-13 deficit in the fourth to win that game and force a decisive fifth.
But in that fifth, Annika Reczek helped the Falcons with clutch points as did Diaz, Barnes and Michelle Cuervo.
“We’ve been in way too many of these matches for comfort,” Reczek said. “In the end, we pull through and find a way to win.”
Cuervo led the Falcons (22-6) with 20 kills, four aces and 16 digs. Reczek had some key points in the decisive game and finished with 22 kills and five blocks. Her sister Alex Reczek had a great defensive game with 32 digs and also had four aces. Sophie Serrano finished with 32 assists.
•Region 4-8A quarterfinal — Lourdes d. Palmetto, 25-22, 19-25, 25-18, 25-16:
The Bobcats (22-4) used another tough defensive effort to hold off the Panthers and advance to the regional semifinals for the third consecutive season. Lourdes has never advanced to the regional finals.
Christina Melendez recorded 16 digs to lead Lourdes and help turn the match in its favor in the third game.
Senior Michelle Marenus continued her stellar season with 20 kills, eight digs and three aces.
Senior Annie Ortiz paced the Bobcats attack with 34 assists and contributed nine digs as well.
“We survived this game,” Lourdes coach Pedro Penate said. “I called a couple of timeouts and called out our seniors to play with more emotion. Both Annie and Michelle have done a great job leading us.”