BRADENTON -- From dancer to Division I volleyball player.
Talk about your road less traveled.
But it has worked for Kayla Armer.
And it has worked out better for Manatee High's volleyball team.
Armer is the senior setter for the Hurricanes, who have ripped off 20 straight victories and head to nationally ranked Venice on Thursday night in a battle for the top spot in Class 7A-District 11.
Next year, she'll be playing for Houston Baptist University on a full scholarship.
On Saturday, Armer was named the MVP of the Manatee County tournament for the second consecutive year.
And did we mention she's a coach's dream?
"She's fantastic," Manatee coach Rachel Batey said, "from her attitude to her athletic ability. And she's so coachable.
"You really can't ask for more from a player."
Armer is an athlete by accident. She grew up a dancer and spent eight years practicing ballet, jazz, tap and anything else that required any semblance of rhythm.
"Everything," Armer said.
Then the day came that the dance studio closed its doors.
"My parents were both athletes," Armer said. "They said, 'Let's try sports.'"
Once again, she tried everything.
"Soccer, basketball, cross country," Armer said. "Volleyball is what clicked. I stuck with it and I love it."
Now standing at 6-foot, Armer began her career as a hitter before she switched to setter during her freshman year.
"I just got kind of thrown into the position," she said. "After that, I really liked the strategy of it. You kind of get to control the game a little bit more."
It's the volleyball equivalent of playing quarterback. And sticking with that comparison, Armer has myriad of capable receivers to get the ball to this season, which was why she was able to stockpile 99 kills during Manatee's five matches at the county tournament.
Whether it's Rachel Drummey or Allie Clements or Becca Butler or Kayla's younger sister, Jacqui, there is no shortage of firepower in Manatee's offense.
"I don't have to search for that one person," said Armer, who plays club with Tampa United. "I have confidence in setting to everyone."
Occasionally, they are the one's setting to Armer, who picks up kills of her own -- including 23 at the county tournament -- whenever she chooses to dump the ball over the net rather than set it.
"That's one of the reasons we play the defense that we do, because it gives her more opportunities to attack the ball," Batey said. "That's kind of rare to have -- a 6-foot setter that is able to hit."
Armer hopes to do plenty of hitting and setting next season at Houston Baptist University, which became a full NCAA Division I member again for the 2011-12 school year. The school returned to the NCAA in 2007 after spending 17 years in the National Association of Interscholastic Athletics.
Not bad for someone who just wanted to dance.
"That was my dream, that was my goal," Armer said of becoming a Division I athlete. "I didn't see it coming, but that's what I was working toward."