Justin McCabe says he's ready.
McCabe will be under the microscope as he seeks to carry on the tradition of excellence established by Tim Dunbar at Severna Park.
Dunbar stepped down as coach after last season and McCabe, his top assistant the last three years, succeeded him.
A six-time Sun County Coach of the Year, including 1999 (15-4) with a fifth straight county title and 11th overall, Dunbar was 252-26 (.906) with three state titles in his unmatched 13-year legacy.
"Tim taught me a lot about coaching girls and I expect to maintain the success of our program, " said McCabe, who coached most of the girls on JV.
The first five matches could make or break the Falcons' season.
Severna Park opens at Calvert, a 3A power second only to defending 3A state champion Northern (23-0) in Calvert County. Calvert edged Severna Park, 3-2, last season while Northern, the Falcons' fourth game at home this season, blanked Park, 3-0.
In between are Harford's C. Milton Wright, a team ranked No. 11 in The Sun's final 1999 poll after going 14-1, and a trip to defending 4A state champion Dulaney in the third game.
The Falcons didn't play C. M. Wright last year, but lost at home to Dulaney, 3-1, as the Lions went 20-0.
And the Falcons open at home in the county against promising South River (11-4) in their fifth match.
McCabe is confident with four returners who played on his club team in juniors Kristen Klau, Megan Boyd and Kim Pytel and senior Jenny Lebowitz.
Lebowitz, an outside hitter and Pytel, a defensive ace, saw limited action last season.
"Kristen is our leader and could be twice as good as last year," said McCabe.
Arundel (13-4) and Broadneck (10-3) are also expected to be in the hunt with young South River (11-4) and Glen Burnie (7-7) teams lurking in the shadows.
Until it was learned that power hitter Najmah Fauntleroy, all-county last year with a school record 248 kills, may not play this season due to personal reasons, Arundel was a leading threat to topple Severna Park.
Still there is a wealth of experience in Gambrills with a trio of three-year starters in setter Leslie Chandler and tall, athletic hitters Melissa Scott (6 feet 2) and Kelly Moore (5-11).
Broadneck graduated two all-county hitters in Katie Henschel and Alice Osborne, but has three key returners in setters Nicole Barr and Hallie Fuller and hitter Sam Seyfferth.
Beans has done an excellent job in raising the Bruins and is looking to get over the final hurdle in his fourth year. All three Bruins losses last year were to Severna Park - regular season, county championship and playoffs.
South River (3A) has seven seniors back, including hitters Laura Greenback (5-8), Alex Sullivan (6-1) and Erin O'Hara (5-8).
At Glen Burnie, coach Kevin Guite is counting on second-team all-county hitter Denise Schultheis and junior setter Ashley Krauss to "surpass our win total after last year's injury-plagued season."
Strong hitters, Brandi Schickton and Brittany Boyd make North County (9-5) competitive with the top teams while the rest of the county public school teams hope to steal a couple wins.
Despite graduating All-Metro setter Ashleigh Verrillo, Annapolis Area Christian School, 47-16 over the last three seasons (14-8 in '99), ranks as the county's top private school with a good senior class.