Loudoun Valley has won 49 consecutive volleyball matches and is ranked No. 1 in the Washington area. And when the Vikings take the court tomorrow night for the start of the Virginia AAA National District tournament, they will be the eighth seed, the league's lowest.

The Vikings (20-0) were moved out of the AA Dulles District and into the AAA ranks before this season began. But because of the distance between Loudoun Valley and the district's other schools -- and potential for missed class time due to travel -- only the Vikings' football team is playing its regular season in the AAA National.

The rest of Loudoun Valley's teams will play an independent schedule that consists mostly of Dulles District teams before moving into the National District tournament.

"We don't have a district to play in, and sometimes it seems like we don't even have a region to play in," senior All-Met middle hitter Blair Brown said earlier this season. "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."

Edison and Yorktown have secured first and second place, respectively, in the National District, and both teams will receive first- and second-round byes in the upcoming tournament. Loudoun Valley's seed was determined before the season.

"Keeping the girls motivated, at times, has been the most difficult aspect of the season," said Vikings' Coach Laird Johnson, who has dubbed this season the "Running Down the Dream" tour. "When you don't have something to shoot for, no district championship you can win, it's hard to keep the girls focused."

If the Vikings win the National tournament, however, they will be the district's top seed in Northern Region play.

Loudoun Valley offered to play each of its National District counterparts during the regular season, but only Yorktown, the league's 2004 champions, took them up on the invitation. For their efforts, the Patriots were handed a 3-0 loss, including an improbable 25-1 score in the games' third match.

Jamie Sapp has helped undefeated Loudoun Valley to the No. 1 ranking, but the Vikings will be the 8th seed in the Virginia AAA National District tournament. "Our goal is to go out there and win every game," senior Blair Brown said.