The Edgewood girls volleyball team might not have a lot of height, but that hasn't limited the Rams' achievements.
After outlasting host Perryville, 15-13, 15-6, 11-15, 8-15, 15-5, on Thursday, the No. 15 Rams remained undefeated (9-0). The match also marked the first time this season that Edgewood had to go five sets to win.
The Rams have more than compensated for their lack of size with precision setting, strong serving and good placement, all of which have elevated Edgewood to being the newest force in girls volleyball in Harford County.
"A lot of people have said that this is Edgewood's year; this is the year for us to rise and gain a little recognition," said coach Carey Wainwright, who hasn't had a losing season since she and her husband, Ray, started coaching three years ago.
"But even though this may be the year for Edgewood, we're not trying to relay that to the girls. We're trying to get the girls to take each game one at a time and realize the competition is there and to fulfill the goals they have set for themselves."
Although the Rams do not have a standout player among their seven returning seniors, they remain formidable with quality players at nearly every spot on the floor.
Serving is again at the top of the Rams' game, and their average is better than last year's 80 percent. Seniors Melissa Marcicola and Anne Kelly and junior Nydia Colon average 90 percent on serve and senior Erika Pleasant follows at 85 percent.
Marcicola and Pleasant also are averaging 10 and eight kills, respectively, and Kelly, as a back-row specialist, has the highest passing percentage -- 85 percent -- in the county.
"We are a more well-rounded team than before," said Wainwright. "It is very hard to point out individual talent because we are so well-rounded."
An integral part of the Rams' success also has come from the setters.
"We've got the top setters in the county," said Wainwright. "Setting is more of a talent than a skill, and we have a couple of talented setters."
Among them is Colon, who is one of the most vocal players on the Rams squad.
"Other than the servers, I think the setters are the second most important because they have to get the ball in position for the point," said Colon. "You're doing most of the talking, deciding which ball is whose."
hTC What separates this year's team from the one that finished 11-4 a year ago is the composure the Rams display in every match, due in part to increased experience.
"One thing I think has been a key for the girls is that in the past when they started to get down, they had a hard time pulling themselves out and now they are basically in control of the game," said Wainwright. "And all of the players used to be real timid, whereas now they all go for the ball and they all know they can do it, so we have a lot of people taking control."
Said senior co-captain Kristy Morrison, "Most of our starting players have been together for four years, so we know how each other plays and where they are going to be."
To this point, Edgewood hasn't had much of a challenge from anyone inside the county, beating Bel Air and C. Milton Wright easily for the first time in more than four years, but Wainwright and her squad are well aware of the tough road ahead.
The Rams have to travel to Bel Air Oct. 19 for a rematch that could have a lot of impact on the county title. Then they play two strong Cecil County schools -- North East and Elkton. The latter beat the Rams in the regular season and the regionals last year.
"It's all uphill from here, and I keep telling the girls that," said Wainwright. "They are really going to have to work to keep what they have set for themselves."