Northeast High's big-hitting senior Andrea Williams never wanted to be a volleyball player.
Her main ambition was to be a ballerina, and she still teaches tap, ballet and jazz dancing as a volunteer at the Glen Burnie Recreation Association.
However, once Williams entered the ninth grade at Northeast she longed to get involved in a team sport of some kind.
"I've never been one much for contact sports," she said. "I like the skill and competition of sports but not the contact. I danced and bowled when I was younger."
So Williams decided to try volleyball and she made the varsity as a starter in the 10th grade.
"That was my biggest thrill in volleyball," said Williams, an outside hitter. "First, finding out I had made the varsity and then finding out I was going to start."
It didn't take Williams long to discover that her dancing skills, honed from the time she was 3 years old, helped her in volleyball. Her agility was especially useful in digging the ball off the floor and hitting from the back row.
Killing the ball at the net just seemed to come naturally, and Williams was on her way to helping Northeast make a lot of waves in a tough county volleyball league.
As a junior, she had 117 kills and an 87 percent serving average and played a major role in the Eagles' 13-7 season. She was rewarded with several All-County honors and being named the team's captain this year.
Because Northeast is a young squad this season, those captain's duties have major significance.
"I've given her free will to call timeouts any time she wants," said Northeast coach Otis Long. "I've told her any time she sees any long faces out there during a game, call timeout and get the girls together. Andrea has a knack for getting our team up. She is the glue that holds us together."
That is a lot of responsibility and praise for Williams, but she proved worthy of it nine days ago in a four-game victory over Bel Air.
After winning the first two games over the Bobcats, Northeast went into a funk and lost the third game, 15-4. During the final points of that third-game loss, Williams called timeout and scolded her teammates.
It was too late to win the third game but Williams' talk paid off in the fourth game, as the Eagles wrapped up the match with a 15-0 victory.
"I told the girls [during timeout] to go out and have a good time," said Williams. "The coach doesn't want to see anybody sulking. I try to impress upon them that each point is a new one and it's OK if you make a mistake."
Northeast came back Tuesday to beat Southern for a second straight victory and a somewhat surprising 3-1 start. But Long and Williams are being careful about expecting too much from a team that graduated seven players.
"I'm hoping we win but we mostly want to go out and give our younger girls a lot of playing time," said Williams. "Our main goal is to hold our own and build for next year. By the time the regionals get here, we might have a shot at winning some matches."
With a 3.7 average in the classroom (ranked fifth in her class) and a lot of volleyball ability, the future will take Williams to college where she plans to major in Spanish or education.
Loyola and Washington College are her top choices with Towson State also in the picture.
And she might continue to teach dance if "I have time for it."
After all, dancing was her first love and it does help her volleyball game.