After three years of rebuilding, the members of the Dunbar volleyball team saw their work rewarded last Thursday when the Crimson Tide upset defending D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association champion Wilson, 28-27, 19-25, 26-24. It was the Tigers' first DCIAA loss in five years.

The victory for Dunbar (7-1, 6-1 DCIAA) marked a significant turnaround for a program that finished 1-10 three years ago. Last season, the Crimson Tide finished 9-7 and lost in the conference semifinals to Banneker -- Dunbar's best postseason finish since reaching the final in 1995.

"Knowing that we were the only [DCIAA] team that gave them a really good match last year [Dunbar lost], we felt like we had a chance," Dunbar Coach Rodney Williams said. "We felt the level of competition would be greater because we have a veteran team."

Much of the Crimson Tide's success has hinged on the stellar serving of outside hitters Janelle Hardy (24 aces) and Sheena Saunders (15 aces) and setter Monique Brundage (14 aces).

A New Approach

With all of his starting field players from last season back, second-year Bethesda-Chevy Chase boys' soccer coach Doug Davies has been more hands-off this year.

"Not that I overcoached last year, but I really pushed my issue," Davies said. "This year they're doing things that are working that are along their lines."

Just about everything has been working for the fourth-ranked Barons, who are 7-1 but can claim to be unbeaten on the field -- they had to forfeit their 7-0 victory over Wheaton for using an ineligible player. Senior co-captain Pierre Pont has scored in every game and leads the team with 14 goals.

The Barons have allowed just two goals all season thanks to the defense of senior sweeper Kwame Darko, senior stopper Brendan Clarke, senior backs Mic Wendt and Michael Samuelson, senior reserve Julian Kurz and junior goalkeeper Will Hanlon.

"My back four are pretty darn solid," Davies said. . . .

Magruder and Wootton have played stingy defense as well. The Colonels (7-1-1 heading into last night's game against Sherwood) and the Patriots (6-2) have allowed just three goals apiece.

Wootton Coach Doug Schuessler credits a change in philosophy for his team's tough defense. Schuessler switched from the zone system he tried to employ in the preseason to a more conventional man-marking system. It has paid off -- led by senior goalkeeper Greg O'Conner, junior stopper Jon Pike and backs Alex Brand (junior), Marcus Ranney (sophomore) and Adam Goldstein (senior), the Patriots have posted five shutouts and have not allowed more than one goal in a game this season.

Hats Off to Carpen

St. Stephen's/St. Agnes senior forward Abby Carpen finally may have emerged as the assertive goal scorer the team needed. Following a 1-1 tie with Holton-Arms on Oct. 6, Carpen had two straight hat tricks in wins over T.C. Williams and Bullis.

"We did a lot of scoring drills after that game," Saints Coach Marsha Way said. "We had some scoring chances, but we just weren't hungry enough."

No one could accuse Carpen of that in the next two games -- scoring all three of her team's goals against the Titans and the first three against Bullis to take over the team lead in scoring.

"It's good to see," Way said.

Special correspondent Ashton Williams contributed to this report.