Loudoun Valley volleyball coach Laird Johnson wasn't planning to revamp the fifth-ranked Vikings' offense this season. But when the opportunity presented itself -- and his new personnel all but dictated it -- he jumped at the chance.
The arrival of senior setter Allison Hamilton, an all-state player in Utah who transferred, in combination with the return of standout senior setter Jen Todd, allowed Johnson to move his team away from a more traditional offense this season. The Vikings now use two rotating setters opposite each other at all times instead of 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," Johnson said. "And that spreads the defense and forces them to honor all three positions across the front."
That is particularly helpful to Loudoun Valley because it prohibits defenses from focusing so much on junior middle hitter Blair Brown, who at 6 feet 4 is one of the Washington area's most dominant hitters. Brown, the 2003 Dulles District player of the year, spent eight weeks this summer training with the U.S. youth national team and represented the country in a gold medal-winning performance at an international competition in Puerto Rico.
"I really like the new offense because it gives me an opportunity to do more than just set," said Todd, who stands 5-6. "I mean I'm not exactly 6-foot-4 or whatever, so hitting isn't my best thing, but it's fun to get to do it sometimes.
"Not as much fun as watching Blair hit, of course, but that goes without saying."
Whitman Snaps Streak
Entering its match against Maryland 4A champion Quince Orchard last week, the members of the Whitman volleyball team were both eager and anxious. But the Vikings managed their nerves -- and confirmed their high expectations -- by emerging with a 27-25, 25-19, 25-15 victory to snap the Cougars' 20-match win streak.
Until Quince Orchard's championship run a year ago, Whitman was the last Montgomery County team to win a state title, capturing the 4A crown in 1998. But the Cougars had dominated the series of late, beating Whitman the past three seasons. So the Vikings had an added incentive going into the nonconference match.
"It was a very exciting win," said Vikings senior hitter- blocker Ariel Werner, who finished with six digs. "We were incredibly nervous because we're a fairly young team. But beating QO gives us so much hope for the rest of the season."
After squeaking by in the first game, junior Claire Thibeau won 12 consecutive service points to spark the Vikings in the second. The Vikings rode that momentum to victory behind contributions from sophomore setter Anne Peterson (16 assists), Kit Fry (eight kills, seven blocks) and Alison Henck (six digs).
"I'm incredibly optimistic about the rest of the season," Werner said. "All our starters are playing immense roles on the team. It's such a cooperative effort."
A Perfect Game
Wootton Coach Chris Thompson said it would have taken a perfect game for his girls' soccer team to defeat No. 2 Good Counsel, and that's exactly what happened in the final of the Wootton Invitational on Saturday.
The Patriots got the game's only goal when senior midfielder Caroline Bohr scored on a volley off a crossing pass from senior Kaili Carlson in the 10th minute.
"When you play a great team like Good Counsel, any of your 11 players can't make a mistake," Thompson said. "We earned our win."
Wootton's performance against the Falcons (4-1) continued an impressive start to the season. The defending Montgomery County 4A West Division champion Patriots (5-0) feature a lineup with eight seniors, led by senior midfielder Anne Lyons's four goals. The eighth-ranked Patriots have outscored their opponents 17-0. Wootton goalies Kristi Buse and Kira Maker have a combined 23 saves.
"We are a very experienced team," Thompson said. "After winning the regular season title and losing in the second round of the playoffs [to Damascus] last year, we are really motivated to go further this season."
Coming up Aces
Bowie junior Bobby Clark made a hole-in-one Tuesday as the Bulldogs won a four-team golf match at Enterprise Golf Course. On the par-3, 183-yard eighth hole, Clark hit a six-iron that landed in the cup, part of his 1-over-par round of 37. Teammates Ray Hyre and Billy Stoustsenburger, the Prince George's County two-time defending champion, shot 32 and 35, respectively, as Bowie recorded a team score of 3-over 147, 30 shots better than Douglass. Bowie has not lost a county match since 2002.
Staff writers Jon Gallo and Josh Barr contributed to this report.