Craig The parking lot of Moffat County High School is empty, except for a few cars parked in the back.
School is out for the summer, but inside the school gymnasium a loud voice can be heard echoing off the walls.
"If you want to play for me, you are going to have to work," MCHS girls volleyball coach Brianna Montgomery said. "If you don't want to work, you are in the wrong place."
Excuse Montgomery if she sounds harsh, but the second-year coach knows what she's talking about.
Last season's squad was the surprise of the Western Slope League, reeling off 16 consecutive wins - including a convincing sweep of state-ranked Battle Mountain - on its way to a state regional championship berth.
Montgomery earned WSL coach-of-the-year honors in her first year at the helm, and the Bulldogs had five all-conference selections.
But, losing those five all-conference players to graduation has Montgomery starting over.
"That's why we're here, practicing," Montgomery said. "We have got to find out who's going to step up. We have a lot of strong individuals, but we have to get them together and build a strong team."
Montgomery pointed out four seniors who are expected to lead the team.
"Ariel Sanchez, Megan Trujillo and I'm hoping Jennifer Harris and Becky Meek will kind of lead the younger girls," she said. "But, Ariel has the most varsity experience."
Sanchez is the lone returning starter and she said despite losing five starters, she thinks the team shouldn't disappoint.
"We have some new girls, but I have a lot of faith in them," Sanchez said. "Coach has got us working already, and its not like we (the team) don't know each other."
Sanchez is making the move from the libero position to outside hitter this season. It's a move the senior said she's been waiting for.
"I'm looking forward to moving to the outside," she said. "It's a lot of fun. I played that position before, but it is a little crazy getting back into it."
As a libero, Sanchez recorded many digs last year. This year, digs will turn into kills while playing on the outside.
Montgomery shrugged off the notion that last year's success breads high expectations for this year.
"I don't feel like we have to live up to the name the girls last year built," she said. "We lost a lot of seniors, and it's a whole new group of girls this time. But, I also think a lot of other teams are in the same position as we are, so you never know."
Sanchez thinks otherwise.
"We definitely have big expectations for this upcoming season," Sanchez said. "We have to prove to everybody that we are for real. We have to hold our name up after what we did last season."
Montgomery added new assistant Sandy Camilletti to her staff.
Sandy "is really excited about the program," Montgomery said. "She's a very good setter coach and she coaches like I do."
A self-proclaimed disciplinarian, Montgomery said being strict doesn't mean the team doesn't have fun.
"We have a good time screwing around and stuff, but not when we get on that floor," she said. "We are just going to try and find our groove. They don't have to prove anything to anybody.
John Vandelinder can be reached at 875-1793, or email@example.com