Four Towson High seniors — Lauren Bosse, Kelly Lacy, Ally Teuten and Hannah Wohltmann — who were key contributors to last season's Class 3A state championship, are hoping their refuse-to-lose attitude rubs off on their current teammates.
In fact, that foursome didn't lose at all during their 21-0 title run in 2010 that ended when the Generals rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat River Hill in five games, 3-2.
This season, though, things have changed after Towson's dream of another unbeaten season ended in its second match, a 3-0 loss to powerful Arundel.
"That was a serious learning point," Towson coach Emily Berman said. "(Arundel is) a very, very strong team, but our defense really crumbled, and we have been working on finding out who our best defensive players are."
Towson (7-1) opened the season with a three-game sweep of Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference member Bryn Mawr, and followed the loss to Arundel with a sweep of a rebuilding Catonsville squad.
Catonsville is usually a competitive foe for the Generals, along with other county rivals Dulaney, Perry Hall and Hereford. Yet only Hereford is close to Towson's skill level this season in the division, while unbeaten Dulaney tops the other division.
Since the Catonsville triumph, Towson has rolled to victories over Sparrows Point, Western Tech, Eastern Tech, Pikesville, Chesapeake and Woodlawn.
The defending state champs close out the regular-season league schedule with Carver A & T, Overlea, Owings Mills, New Town and Hereford.
The day after the Hereford game, however, they will challenge other top teams, including Centennial, Severna Park, River Hill, Mount de Sales and Reservoir, in a tournament Oct. 22 at Reservoir High.
"That will be great right before playoffs," Berman said.
Until then, Berman hopes to mold another defense like the sponge-like unit that absorbed everything opponents threw at them last year.
"It (defensive lineup) is constantly changing," Berman said.
Senior Emily Lansinger has played outside hitter and libero and sophomore Georgie Teuten has performed well in the back row, along with junior Monique Moss.
Whether the passing is sharp or not, senior setter Ally Teuten is always on her game.
"More than anything else, Ally is an emotional leader," Berman said. "She works so hard to get every ball and she expects everybody else to work as hard as she does."
Senior Lacy is another leader playing at a very high level.
"I think Kelly is playing the best volleyball I've ever seen her play," said Berman, who cited Lacy's 21 kills in a sweep of Eastern Tech.
Although all of Towson's players are dedicated to volleyball, it's still a secondary pursuit for many of them, including Division I lacrosse recruits Lacy (Jacksonville University), Bosse (Penn State) and Wohltmann (University of New Hampshire).
That said, Bosse, who had 14 kills in the final three games of the 2010 state championship win over River Hill, has proven to be a pretty dominant middle hitter.
"She doesn't have that instant kill like she had last year, because she's taken a lot of time to focus on lacrosse. But she is slowly getting back to where she was," Berman said.
Bosse is flanked by Wohltmann, who has developed consistency on the outside.
"She is smart and so powerful," Berman said.
Junior Hanna Glazer backs up Bosse in the middle and freshman Emmie Healy starts as the opposite hitter.
Glazer continues to improve, and Healy's jumping ability melds well with her ability to absorb her coach's suggestions and put them to good use.
"She listens really intently, and it's enjoyable," Berman said.
If the Generals listen to Berman's message about where they want to be at the end of the season, another title is an attainable goal.
"I asked them if they want to have that same attitude they had last year," Berman said. "If we are going to try to have that same attitudes, they are going to have to work very hard."