CLERMONT — Stephanie Samedy is good.

Real good.

So good, in fact, the East Ridge High School senior is considered by many to be one of the top high school volleyball players in the country. Samedy, a 6-foot-2 outside hitter, is a big reason the Knights have gotten off to a 5-1 start this season and believe they have a shot at winning a state championship.

And she’s still a relative novice at the sport.

“I became interested in volleyball when I was in the sixth grade,” said Samedy as she prepared for a match on Tuesday against Lake Minneola. “I tried other sports, like basketball, but I didn’t like all the physical contact and the aggressiveness. It was just a little too much for me, but when I started playing volleyball in middle school, I loved the pace of play and competitiveness of the game. I played for Windy Hill (Middle School) in the eighth grade and have been a varsity player at East Ridge since my freshman year.

“Volleyball always felt like a much better fit for me than any other sport.”

Samedy quickly proved to be a natural at the game. She can touch objects 10 feet, eight inches off the floor, which makes her a nightmare at the net for opponents.

But, she’s not a one-dimensional player. Samedy can go to the floor for a dig, deliver a service ace when needed and can keep rallies alive with athleticism and all-around play.

“Stephanie is the best player I’ve ever coached,” said East Ridge coach Mayra Cuebas. “She can do everything on a volleyball court and she’s a great teammate and leader. She’s also a 4.0 (grade point average) student. Stephanie is a natural athlete, but she’s worked very hard to become the player she is now.

“I’ve watched her develop from the start and she’s simply an amazing player.”

Samedy has 107 kills in six matches to go along with 63 digs. He presence on the court has helped her win a national championship with her club team and reserved her a roster spot on the USA Youth and Junior National teams the past two seasons.

With a bevy of colleges hoping to land her with scholarship offers, Samedy has verbally committed to the University of Minnesota, where she will work with coach Hugh McCutcheon, who is a former coach of the U.S. National Team.

“I’ll sign with Minnesota as soon as I’m permitted to,” Samedy said. “I loved the campus up there when I visited and I think I fit in with the coaches and the program up there better than any other school. One of my goals is to play in the Olympics one day and I think (playing for McCutcheon at Minnesota) gives me the best shot at achieving the goal.”

Samedy understands that she is a marked player whenever she’s on the floor. Opponents game-plan for her and look for ways to slow her down or cut down on her effectiveness.

More often than not, those attempts are futile.

“She does so many things well that it’s almost impossible to stop her,” Cuebas said.

To Samedy, the advance scouts opponents do and the various defensive schemes designed specifically for her are a challenge. It’s also a compliment, a sign that coaches acknowledge his prowess on the court.

“I’ll never stop working to get better,” Samedy said. “That’s why I play so much volleyball in club and at East Ridge. It’s more opportunities to improve myself. I’ve become the player I am because I’m always practicing — even on the little things.

“I want to be the best.”

And that just might be enough to give the Knights a shot at a state championship.

“I think we can go all the way,” Samedy said. “We still have a long way to go this season before we can even think about that, but we’ve got a good team. A really good team. If everything comes together and we keep improving, though, we have a chance.

“A good chance.”