VOLLEYBALL

Langley Tops W.T. Woodson for District's 1st Title

Leaning back in his chair overlooking the title match of the Virginia AAA Liberty District volleyball championship last night at Fairfax High, tournament director Patrick Laing took a deep breath before analyzing the inaugural season in Fairfax County.

"There is only one way to describe it," Laing said. "At first we were crawling, and now we are beginning to walk."

But by night's end, Langley (11-4) showed it was a step ahead. The top-seeded Saxons took home the district's first title with a 15-12, 15-12, 15-9 victory over second-seeded W.T. Woodson in front of a vocal crowd.

Both teams advance to the Northern Region tournament and will have first-round matches Wednesday at 7 p.m. Langley will host the third seed from the Concorde District. W.T. Woodson will play at Falls Church of the National District.

"Winning the first district championship is special," said Langley Coach Susan Shifflett, the district's coach of the year. "It's something that's going to be fun to talk about -- that we were the first team to win the district, even in our own little group. It's history."

TENNIS

Strickland Wins WCAC Girls Singles Title

For three years, Elizabeth Seton senior Kim Strickland has wanted to prove to naysayers that she could finish her high school career undefeated in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference. At Bluemont Park in Arlington, Strickland dominated Felicia Pricenor of O'Connell, 10-2, to capture the No. 1 singles title.

"I've been working so hard to remain undefeated for so long, and I finally got it," said Strickland, who raised her record to 45-0. "A lot of people doubted whether I could do it, but I kept telling myself that I'm going to win everything."

Strickland got off to a quick start against Pricenor, who ended her season with a 16-2 record, with both losses to Strickland. She won the first four games of the 50-minute match behind consistent ground strokes, using an array of cross-court shots to keep Pricenor on the defensive. Strickland had 16 winners, six service-winners and committed only 12 errors in the match.

"I just wanted to hit the ball with good pace and go for winners," Strickland said. "[Pricenor] is a good player, but my level right now is so mental. I've been in a zone."

Walter Johnson's Pulupa Earns Championship

Walter Johnson junior tennis player Diana Pulupa defeated Magruder sophomore Ronnie Brown, 6-1, 6-1, to capture the Montgomery County No. 1 singles title at Northwest High in Germantown.

Pulupa, who improved to 16-0, took advantage of 18 unforced errors and eight double faults by Brown.

CROSS-COUNTRY

Pulliam Takes First in Montgomery County

As a freshman, Quince Orchard's Karen Pulliam decided not to try out for the school's team because she was too overwhelmed by the competition at the high school level.

But at the Montgomery County championships, Pulliam, now a sophomore, overwhelmed her competition by capturing the event 17 seconds ahead of the field in 19 minutes 13.27 seconds on the 3.1-mile course at Blake High in Silver Spring.

But Pulliam's efforts could not help the Cougars win the team title. Walter Johnson placed all five of its runners in the top 10 to claim the championship, 27 points to 91, over Quince Orchard. Seniors Kim Milans (2nd, 19:30.95) and Jenny Bodine (3rd, 19:31.72) led Quince Orchard.

In the boys event, senior Matt Seymour of Magruder won the individual title in 15:58.45, 12-plus seconds ahead of Jarret Van Tine of Bethesda-Chevy Chase (16:10.92). Whitman, which was led by senior Jamie Albertine (third in 16:21.96), captured the team title with 74 points. Gaithersburg placed second with 89 points.

FIELD HOCKEY

Franks's Goal Lifts Long Reach

Long Reach's field hockey player Brandi Franks continued her clutch scoring streak. The junior center forward scored the game's lone goal to give the fourth-year Columbia school a 1-0 victory over River Hill in a Maryland 3A North Region quarterfinal in Columbia.

Long Reach (10-2-2) will play at Wilde Lake in a semifinal Tuesday at 3 p.m.

Franks previously had scored both goals in a 2-1 victory over Glenelg to lead Long Reach to a share of the Howard County championship with the Gladiators.

Yesterday, Franks's goal came with 6 minutes 19 seconds remaining in the first half. Jessica Burkhardt made a nice cross on a mini-breakaway, and Franks re-directed it past River Hill's Shannon Hadley (eight saves). It was Franks's 11th goal of the season. . . .

In a 3A West quarterfinal, Becca Price scored the lone goal in the second half to lead Richard Montgomery to a 1-0 victory over No. 10 Walter Johnson. The Rockets will play the winner of the Kennedy-Damascus game on Tuesday at 3 p.m.

More results on Page D10