Sophomore Chealsy Luciano’s happiest moment Tuesday night wasn’t when Ferguson finished off its win against Lourdes.
It was when she caught the black hard hat with the school’s logo her coach Greg Shanower tossed her while huddled with her teammates after the match.
“We give the hat after every match to the hardest working player on the team,” Shanower said. “Before every match and every practice the players touch the helmet for luck and it gives them something to strive for as a team.”
The Falcons are hoping the camaraderie their “lucky hat” has built will help them make it to the state final four for the first time since 2009.
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Ferguson took an important step in the process Tuesday night beating district rival Lourdes 25-23, 27-25, 25-20 to secure a share of the top-seed in District 15-8A and hand the Bobcats their first loss of the season.
The Falcons (14-2) avenged a five-game loss to Lourdes (11-1) on Sept. 12 and the teams will have to have an official coin flip to decide who gets the top-seed in the district tournament in two weeks.
“When we played them last time we had a difficult time passing their floaters,” Shanower said. “We made some adjustments and made some changes to make our defense stronger. From the moment we lost we circled Oct. 8 on the calendar because we knew we had to win this match.”
Senior Annika Reczek finished with seven kills and three blocks, and freshman Michelle Cuervo also had seven kills and five key aces. Setter Sophie Serrano had 11 assists.
“Since we have a lot of new talent this year, it’s all been about working together,” Reczek said. “We always knew we had talented players, but we just had to make it work collectively.”
Luciano, the team’s libero, was hugged by several teammates when she was given the hard hat after finishing with six digs.
“[Luciano] didn’t play that great the first time we played Lourdes, but she’s worked really hard to get her confidence back,” Shanower said. “She really pulled through and played well for us.”
After an opening game in which neither team led by more than four points, Lourdes appeared ready to even the match taking a 24-18 lead behind several key points by Michelle Marenus and Gianna Dunand.
But a couple of errors, Cuervo’s serving and key points by freshman Daniela Diaz and sophomore Gabriela Beverly helped the Falcons survive six game points to tie it at 24.
Dunand put Lourdes in front 25-24 on the next point before Ferguson again tied the match on a service error. The Falcons completed the comeback on a spike by Reczek. In the third game, Ferguson took the lead at 7-6 and never trailed again.
Reczek, who holds a 6.4 GPA and is considering several prestigious academic schools including Amherst, Columbia and Princeton, and her sister Alexandra, a junior outside hitter, have been contributors in Ferguson’s rise back to prominence the past two seasons.
“When I first transferred to the school, we had only won six matches the previous year and we flipped the record the next season,” Reczek said. “We’ve been building from then ever since. I’m just glad we could leave a mark on this team.”