The county's record in the state field hockey tournament is abysmal. Thirty teams have qualified for the state semifinals, including Centennial this year, and only one has won a state title.

However, you won't find any county coaches who see the trend as more than coincidence.

"It's just luck of the draw with who you face," Glenelg Coach Ginger Kincaid said after her team lost to Bethesda-Chevy Chase several weeks ago in the 2A West Region final. "I don't think it's really a big deal. We play good hockey in this county."

Bethesda-Chevy Chase went on to win its national-record ninth state title, while Centennial, the county's lone representative in the state tournament at Goucher College in Towson, lost in the 2A semifinals to Towson in penalty strokes.

For Centennial, the only team in the county to win a state title, the loss to Towson this season was among its toughest. A year ago, the Eagles lost to eventual state champion Hereford in penalty strokes and were out-played for most of the game.

Against Towson on Nov. 4, the Eagles out-shot the Generals, took a 1-0 lead at one point on a goal by senior Alex Hope but lost out on penalty strokes for the second year in a row.

"Last year I quite honestly felt like Hereford outplayed us," Centennial Coach Gail Purcell said. "It's always difficult to walk away from a loss that comes down to something that pits you one-on-one when it's a team game, but this is an element of the game, and we will be back working on strokes again next Aug. 15."

For Vikings, a Volleyball Season to Savor Shortly before the regular season, senior setter Stacey Carroll sensed a change in the Mount Hebron volleyball team.

"We went to Bob Bertucci [volleyball] Camp, almost all the girls on the team, and we won the camp," Carroll said. "We beat Centennial and River Hill, and that was the turning point. We got all the confidence in the world."

During the regular season, Carroll and the Vikings demonstrated that a 3-12 2001 season was a disastrous fluke. Mount Hebron was second to Glenelg in Howard County and advanced to last Friday's Class 3A East Region championship.

It was then that the Vikings turned in the performance of the season. Against a Severna Park squad that had gone to the state championship match a year ago, Mount Hebron put on a clinic. In just 55 minutes, the Falcons were swept away, 15-4, 15-4, 15-6, and the Vikings were on their way to the state semifinals.

"No balls hit the floor," Carroll said. "Our defense was on, our offense was on, everything was just on."

Mount Hebron faced Liberty on Wednesday night for a berth in the state championship match, but results were not available when this edition went to press. No matter the outcome, however, Mount Hebron and first-year coach Michael Moynihan already have put together a season to savor.

Glenelg Comes Up Big The rest of the county has looked up to Glenelg's volleyball season, and so has Gladiators Coach Jen Beall. Quite literally, in fact.

At 5-feet-7, Beall is taller than just one member of Glenelg's squad, a towering team that beat Centennial for the third time this year on Friday in the Maryland 2A West Region final, 15-6, 11-15, 15-7, 17-15.

The Gladiators' victory earned them a second straight trip to the state semifinals. The team's game against J.M. Bennett on Wednesday night ended before press time.

Glenelg's height left quite an impression on Centennial Coach Michael Bossom.

"They're big, but their big girls can move and set and pass as well," Bossom said.

At times, the Gladiators (18-0) feature a front line of three six-footers -- seniors Sarah Tursell, Adrienne McGill and Cheyenne Davidson -- with 5-10 setter Tara Stradling and 5-10 outside hitter Michelle Morgan adding to an already formidable defense.

"It's kind of amazing when I look at the whole front row and it's over six feet," Morgan said. "I just look up at them and I am like, 'Hey guys,' but it's fun. We are able to get our hands on most of the blocks and get them up."

Wilde Lake's DuVall Gets His Day Longtime Wilde Lake football coach Doug DuVall didn't get the key to the city, but he did get a day named after him following his 250th career victory Saturday.

After DuVall's Wildecats beat Mount Hebron, 43-22, to complete an undefeated regular season and clinch a share of the county title with Glenelg, County Executive James N. Robey named Nov. 9 "Doug DuVall Day."

"Maybe I can always have that day off," DuVall joked.

DuVall didn't take many days off during his career, which began in 1972 as Wilde Lake's junior varsity coach. He compiled a 9-7 record in two years with the JV, and in 28 years with Wilde Lake's varsity, he amassed 241 wins, 5 state titles and 16 county championships.

"It was a great day," DuVall said. "It's one of those things where I had kids there from 1972 that I coached. I had kids of kids that I coached there, fathers and sons that had played. It's a really marquee tradition and a lot of fun."