The attitudes are different, and so are the players, heading into Saturday's regional volleyball tournament in Sterling.
"Practice has been good this week," said Brianna Montgomery, Moffat County's coach. "The girls are excited to go."
What many didn't expect was for Moffat County to knock off Mullen and Delta at the district tournament. It was the first time in the school's history that a sports team beat Mullen, Montgomery said.
The Bulldogs are coming off a strong weekend in district play and hope to continue the momentum in regional play.
"I didn't think they realized right away what they had to do to move on to regionals," Montgomery said.
What the Bulldogs did was play in one of the toughest brackets, and they came out in second place. That gave the 9-14 Bulldogs the 16th seed and a trip to Sterling High School to take on the 22-1 Tigers at 9 a.m.
"I think we're where we're supposed to be," Montgomery said of her team.
Montgomery took over as head coach in mid-September, and the team has made a drastic turnaround in the way it plays, going from a mostly defensive team to an aggressive offensive team.
"If everyone does their own personal job we'll be successful," Montgomery said.
The task ahead of the Bulldogs is daunting -- the Tigers are the No. 1 team in the state in Class 4A.
Montgomery said that the Tigers rely heavily on two hitters, but that they put up a big blocking front and have good servers. She said coaches she has talked to indicate Sterling is on a par with Battle Mountain, a team the Bulldogs have lost to four times.
Early morning practices during the past two weeks have helped prepare the team for morning play. Still, Montgomery is relieved to have an extra hour before the game starts.
"I just don't think kids function that well that early in the morning," Montgomery said.
Montgomery is taking a 9-14 Bulldog team into uncharted territory, but she believes the squad has the tools to come out with a berth in the state tournament.
"I don't think our record shows what kind of team we really are," Montgomery said. "I think the girls want to win."
The Bulldogs swept Delta at districts -- a team that had given them trouble earlier in the season -- in three games.
"Delta was the best game they have played all season," Montgomery said. "We didn't score off mistakes. It was just us being successful."
That match should give the girls confidence that they shouldn't be intimidated by Sterling, Montgomery said.
"They haven't come to the realization that they can play with anyone," Montgomery said. "If they'd just play and not let that intimidation be a factor."
Melanie McDaniels can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Player Kills-Att Assists Solo-Asst Digs
Shaylyn Kawcak 1-1 167 0-3 135
Deidra Gray 1-3 0 0-0 291
Kari Griffin 93-424 2 11-17 213
Angie Charchalis 90-442 1 7-15 281
Ariel Sanchez 10-62 3 1-3 42
Meghan Innes 0-2 204 0-8 97
Amy Dilldine 118-407 4 52-64 51
Markie Workman 115-419 8 44-41 69
Sharina Simpson 55-252 9 18-32 36
MacKenzie Maneotis 24-173 10 6-25 21
Moffat County had two players named to the All-District honorable mention team, juniors Angie Charchalis and Amy Dilldine.
Saturday's regional pairings in Sterling:
Skyline vs. Liberty- 8 a.m.
MC vs. Sterling- 9 a.m.
MC vs. Skyline- 10 a.m.
Sterling vs. Liberty- 11 a.m.
MC vs. Liberty- 1 p.m.
Sterling vs. Skyline- 2 p.m.