Broadneck volleyball coach Romonzo Beans sometimes wonders how he's survived the start of his team's season. Practices leave him scratching his head; games make him feel exhausted from nervousness and frustration.

"We're young and we're inexperienced, so it can be a struggle," Beans said. "It's fair to say that a lot of things have gone wrong."

One thing has saved the season from unmitigated disaster: the team's undefeated record.

Despite starting a freshman for the first time in recent memory, despite some sloppy play and questionable decision making, Broadneck is 5-0 and considered -- by those other than Beans, at least -- the county's top team.

In spite of its youth, Broadneck's talent is undeniable. Stephanie Carey is the county's premier setter, and 5-foot-11 Allie Woods is a solid spiker. Freshman Ally Malesich, who had never played volleyball before this season, has become a reliable cog in the middle.

"It's surprised me how the wins have piled up," Carey said. "We're just starting to gel together, so it isn't always pretty. But right now, it's our record that counts. We care about winning, not how we do it."

Broadneck epitomized that idea in a match against Bowie last week. The Bruins fumbled away nine match points before they finally closed it out, winning 25-19, 25-20, 24-26, 25-22.

"We needed to be mentally tough," Woods said. "That's what we're starting to show now, that we can find ways to win."

Said Beans: "I'm happy with getting a win. But I just wish we could be a little smoother doing it."

College Choices

Together, they talked about recruitment and compared school visits. So when Spalding basketball players Justin Castleberry, Lawrence Dixon and Marquis Sullivan committed to colleges recently, it came as no surprise that they did it together.

Within a month, Castleberry chose Bucknell, Dixon picked Holy Cross and Sullivan committed to Loyola (Md.). All three players will be seniors at Spalding this season.

"We all helped each other decide, really," Castleberry said. "We just gave a lot of advice to each other throughout the whole process. We talked about our visits and everything. Now we've all made decisions we're excited about."

With a college choice out of the way, Castleberry said, he's already turned his focus to the upcoming season at Spalding.

"This is our last year of high school, and that's something pretty special," Castleberry said. "We might not have the pressure from being scouted and everything, but there's still pressure to succeed. We've got a great team coming back, and we want to cause some damage."

Knights Make Progress

Despite his team's winless record, North County soccer coach Greg Helms says he is pleased with the way the Knights are progressing. "The way we're fighting, that's very encouraging," said Helms, whose team is 0-3. "It's a goal here, a bad start there that's making the difference. We're competing. These are games we could be winning." . . .

The Arundel boys and Old Mill girls won the team competitions in a nearly county-wide cross-country meet at Old Mill last weekend. Northeast's Chris Wallace finished in 17 minutes 59 seconds, placing first in the boys' race. Marissa McPhail of Arundel ran in 21:38 to win the girls' race.

Severna Park's Romonzo Beans.Spalding's Justin Castleberry.Spalding's Marquis Sullivan.Spalding's Lawrence Dixon.