Catch Julie Allen in the right mood on the volleyball court and she will put on a show anybody would enjoy watching.
Except the opposition.
The Severna Park senior can hit the ball so hard that it is sometimes dangerous for the players on the other side of the net.
"There are certain times in a match when I say to myself on every ball 'This one's going down,' " said Allen. "The most exciting thing about playing the game is pounding the ball on the floor. I kind of grunt when I hit the ball and that adds a little to it."
The No. 1 power hitter on the No. 2 team in the Baltimore area was in one of those reckless moods in the fifth game of a match against ninth-ranked South River last month.
The Seahawks had stunned the then top-ranked Falcons by forcing the Anne Arundel County Southern Division title match to a fifth game, prompting Allen to take over.
She slammed one ball over the net so fast in that fifth game that Severna Park coach Tim Dunbar and all the players on the bench just looked at each other and asked, "Did she really hit the ball that hard?"
"Those of us who see Julie play all the time have a tendency to take her for granted," said Dunbar. "But even we were amazed when she hit that one against South River."
Allen had seven kills in that fifth game and Severna Park won, 15-0.
"Julie has a strong physical presence, works so hard, plays year round and I believe she is the best player in the metro area," said Dunbar. "She's also a perfectionist who never gets satisfied and a quiet leader."
There are even a couple of Severna Park students who follow the team everywhere and do cheers for Allen.
"It's a lot of fun to have those two boys at our matches," she said. "My parents and grandparents are also at every match and that means a lot to me."
It was her father, Lee, who gave the 5-foot-10 Allen the power.
"He's naturally strongly built and played football at Towson State," said Allen. "I have the same strength and I've started lifting weights to tone myself up."
In addition to all the power, Allen has outstanding timing that allows her to get to the sets just at the right moment.
And she plays with so much confidence that it is nearly impossible to hold her down for more than a couple of points.
"One mix-up on one ball is not going to cost you a match," said Allen. "You shake it off and move on to another point."
Entering this year's playoffs, Allen already had surpassed her total of 277 kills last year with 278. She was a first-team All-Metro selection last season on a team that had lost most of its top players.
Allen played on the 1993 Severna Park squad that won a third straight state 4A championship with a victory over Quince Orchard.
"She was the only underclassman [sophomore] on that team with a bunch of seniors that included the Player of the Year [Susan Wren] and two first-team All-Metro picks [Julie Kasperzak and Jen Conner]," he said. "Julie Allen played the middle and realized how good she could be."
Allen said of that championship experience: "I like playing with competitive people. It makes you work harder and you can only get better. I looked up to those three girls. They were role models."