While Stephanie Reynolds played middle school volleyball in Indiana, she imagined she would soon play for a pretty good high school team.
Back then, the setter expected to finish her high school career in Indiana. Instead, she moved to Bel Air in the ninth grade.
"Back there we played all through middle school, and then the high schools had three teams -- varsity, jayvee and freshman," explained Reynolds, now a senior. "It's so different here. I'm just really glad I'm on a good team."
The Bobcats' record couldn't be any better. At 11-0, Bel Air clinched its seventh straight county title Tuesday with a 15-1, 15-3, 15-7 victory over Edgewood.
Last year, the Bobcats finished third in the Class 3A state championships. To help Bel Air prepare for a possible return trip to the state final four, coach Connie Hassett has scheduled a couple of tough teams, North East and Glen Burnie, to finish off the season.
Those teams are more like the kind of competition Reynolds would have faced in Indiana, where field hockey and soccer weren't so popular.
"When I came here and I saw the turnout, I said 'That's it?' At first, I was a little disappointed. Then I thought, hey, I'll be a big star on a little team."
As the Bobcats' only setter, Reynolds may be the most important player in their title drive. Without her nearly flawless sets, the Bobcats couldn't take advantage of the overwhelming power of Dawn St. Clair.
A 6-foot senior, St. Clair can soar above the net to pound almost any ball past the defense. Her 28-inch vertical jump helps her get even more strength behind her ferocious hits.
With all that power, St. Clair draws most of the attention, but she gives much of the credit to Reynolds.
"Without her, I wouldn't be where I am," explained St. Clair. "I wouldn't have the spiking stats I do. Just her setting the ball up for me is such a major part of our offense. It may seem like a little thing, but it's not."
This is the first year Reynolds has been the only setter for the Bobcats, who returned only the two full-time starters. In addition to her soft hands and pinpoint accuracy, Reynolds has plenty of endurance. She put up 67 sets in a three-game match against Elkton earlier this season.
But for Reynolds to have that many chances to set, the rest of the team has to send her accurate passes. The rest of the starting lineup -- Carol Tallman, Chris Fleckenstein, Jen Jankowski and Lisa Glenn -- provide strong defense and good serving.
Against Edgewood, the Bobcats finished off the match in less than an hour. The Rams had trouble returning serves, so Bel Air needed just four service rotations to beat them.
Glenn, Tallman and St. Clair combined for six aces, and only four balls came back over the net.
Edgewood's passing got a little better the rest of the match, but the Rams simply were no match for Bel Air's power. The Rams' Melissa Marzicola played excellent back row defense against St. Clair, but Edgewood had almost no blocking defense.
None of the local teams has offered much defense against St. Clair. But once the Bobcats get into the regional playoffs in two weeks, they might finally see taller teams that can block well.