How will the new 6-2 offense at No. 8 Loudoun Valley and Potomac Falls affect district play?

Both the Vikings and Panthers are moving from the more traditional 5-1 offense to a 6-2 set this season. That means both teams will have two rotating setters opposite each other at all times instead of using one designated setter.

"The advantage to it is that it allows you to have three attackers on the net every rotation because one setter becomes a hitter on the front line," Vikings Coach Laird Johnson said. "And that spreads the defense and forces them to honor all three positions across the front."

Loudoun Valley will work senior Jen Todd with newcomer Allison Hamilton, a senior setter who transferred from Utah.

Potomac Falls's rotation will include junior Katie Hofer and sophomores Lauren Fauteux and Clara Flanagan.

"The change is allowing us to try new things offensively," Panthers Coach Linda Lachey-Helms said. "And my girls are loving every minute of it."

Can Heritage's volleyball team become the first in school history to earn an AA Dulles District championship?

It's a tough task -- and perhaps more attainable a year from now -- but certainly no one in the league should count out the Pride. Heritage has all of its starters back from last year's team that came on strong at season's end, finishing fifth in the district at 12-9 overall.

"We're going to take it day by day and hope that by the time the tournament rolls around, we'll be near the top of the pack this year," Coach Carmel Keilty said.

Led by senior outside hitter Lauren Mellot, sophomore setter Katherine Buttery and the powerful middle duo of sophomores Alana Rudkovsky and Rachel Young, Heritage undoubtedly has the potential to get there. And the best news of all for Keilty: The only senior on the roster aside from Mellot is Heather Presor, leaving the other seven players to possibly return next season.

Is this Fauquier's year to be back atop the AA Northwestern District?

From all accounts, it sure seems so. The Falcons have four starters returning from last year's team that finished 14-8 overall and 12-2 in the district; its only league losses were to eventual champion Warren County. Senior outside hitter Kathleen Crosby will lead the way, flanked by returning seniors Christie Konoza (setter), Renee Lott (middle blocker) and Erika Yates (defensive specialist).

"Those four girls have truly been the heart and soul of this team," Coach Diana Story said. "They've brought this team together. They have the potential to be one of the top three teams I've ever had at Fauquier."

MH Blair Brown, Jr., Loudoun Valley

The 2003 Dulles District player of the year stands 6 feet 4 and has the area's most dominant swing. She had 354 kills, including eight matches with 20 or more, and 73 blocks last year.

OH Kathleen Crosby, Sr., Fauquier

An All-Northwestern District selection, the 5-foot-3 Crosby is an exceptional leaper. Recorded 158 kills, 229 digs, 141 service points and 43 aces in 2003, misfiring on only 19 of 267 serves.

MH Samantha Ingersoll, Jr., Stone Bridge

Two-time All-Extra and an all-Region II honoree stands 5 feet 10 and is a complete player. Totaled 208 kills, 381 digs, 94 blocks, 230 service points and 46 aces last season.

OH Lauren Mellot, Sr., Heritage

Honorable mention All-Extra selection last season was the Pride's leader on and off the court. Five-foot-8 hitter led the Pride in kills (151), digs (373) and serve receiver percentage (96). Also totaled 41 service aces.

OH Emily Mims, Sr., Potomac Falls

The 2002 Dulles District player of the year worked her way back last season from a severely sprained left ankle. The 5-11 hitter totaled 118 kills, 330 defensive saves, 27 blocks and 33 aces in 13 games.