Loudoun Valley's volleyball team has some pent up animosity it's having difficulty hiding. The problem is that the second-ranked Vikings aren't exactly sure where to direct their frustration.
The Vikings have moved out of the AA Dulles District. But they will not be joining their new league -- the AAA National District -- until the playoffs begin. That means the 2005 regular season, one in which the Vikings hope to extend last year's 29-0 unbeaten mark, will be played against Dulles District teams without the possibility of winning a district title.
That notion has prompted the Vikings -- who improved to 7-0 Tuesday night with a 3-1 victory over host Potomac Falls -- to dub this season the "Running Down the Dream Tour."
"We're in a non-district district, so you're going to see us using all of our girls and playing each of them as much as possible," Coach Laird Johnson said. "Of course we want to win, so you'll see our starters out there more that the rest, but we've termed this season a tour because we have to have a different focus. There is no district championship available to us. We're just chasing a dream."
The dream is following last year's Class AA title -- its third in five seasons -- with a Class AAA title.
"We don't have a district to play in, and sometimes it seems like we don't even have a region to play in," said All-Met Player of the Year Blair Brown. "But our goal is to go out there and win every game. They want to put up all these obstacles against us, but we're going to fight to take them down."
The Vikings' first hurdle will be internal as they seek the type of chemistry that helped them go 29-0 last season. Brown, a nearly 6-foot-5-inch middle hitter who made a verbal commitment to Penn State, is the only returning starter from last season. Only one other player -- junior middle hitter Jaime Sapp -- played a significant amount last year.
So it's a new look for the Vikings, even if the same goal exists.
"We're not trying to look back on last season," said senior setter Joanie Werling. "We can't. We have to find our own identity and just continue to push ourselves to win every time out."
Tuesday night's victory came via a 25-13, 25-13, 20-25, 25-10 decision over the Panthers, who boast a powerful serving team and a feisty defense. The one area in which Potomac Falls faltered was its passing, and miscues led to some of Brown's most powerful finishes. Brown, who totaled a match-high 13 kills and four blocks, registered her strongest swings when a Panthers defender passed the ball too near the net -- and within her long reach.
"We have a tendency to pass or set too tight, and against team with height, like Loudoun Valley, you can't get away with that," Panthers Coach Linda Lachey-Helms said. "But I have to say, I like the way my kids went after her. They wanted to dig up her balls and challenge her at the net. There was no wincing or no being intimidated, and I liked seeing that."
Senior hitter Molly Brotherton led Potomac Falls (4-3) with a team-high nine kills while freshman hitter Sara Hibson added four.