Revamped MCHS volleyball team eyes postseason
At a glance
Players to watch
Ariel Sanchez (senior) - Sanchez moves from libero to outside hitter in her second full season under Coach Brianna Montgomery. A Western Slope League second-team selection as a junior, Sanchez could contend for player of the year honors.
Megan Trujillo (senior) - Montgomery said Trujillo has great leaping ability and should make an impact on the outside, opposite of Sanchez.
Jennifer Harris (senior) - Harris - a setter - will be heavily relied upon to get Sanchez and Trujillo the ball in Montgomery's 5-1 offensive set.
Teams to watch
Battle Mountain - Three-time defending Western Slope League champions who Montgomery said she expects to be a powerhouse once again.
Steamboat Springs - Montgomery praised the Sailors coach - Wendy Hall - saying she annually fields a competitive team.
Palisade - MCHS swept the two-game, regular-season series with Palisade, then knocked them out of the state playoffs. Expect Palisade to be looking for revenge.
Dates to circle on the schedule
Sept. 12 - MCHS at Montrose. The Indians knocked the Bulldogs from the postseason last year, an image that still burns in Moffat County's mind.
Oct. 7 - MCHS vs. Steamboat Springs. The teams split the season series last year, with the road team winning both times in five tightly contested games. They also are the Bulldogs' rival.
Oct. 11 - MCHS hosts Steamboat Springs, Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley in the last match-up of the year between Battle Mountain and Moffat County. One win separated the teams last year, so this game could have WSL title implications.
League: Western Slope League (WSL) - Class 4A
Coach: Brianna Montgomery
Assistant Coach: Sandy Camilletti
Montgomery with the Bulldogs: third year
Returning starters: one
Players lost: seven
Craig — Brianna Montgomery is the first to admit the Bulldogs are rebuilding.
Although the Moffat County High School volleyball team lost five all-conference selections from a team that went deep into last season’s playoffs, to Montgomery, rebuilding doesn’t add up to losing.
“We might be a little slower starting than we were last year,” the MCHS coach said. “But, I think this team will come on well.”
The Bulldogs will have four seniors on the team, with Ariel Sanchez as the lone returning starter in Montgomery’s 5-1 offense.
The system is based on fluid passing, with one setter and five hitters rotating on the court.
The style of play proved effective last season in Montgomery’s first full year at the helm – she took over as coach midway through the 2006 season – as the team reeled off 17-consecutive wins on its way to the Western Slope League district championship game.
And, Montgomery was named coach of the year.
MCHS was the surprise of the league in 2007, but Montgomery doesn’t expect the Bulldogs to stay under the radar again this year.
“I think people now know what to expect from Moffat County volleyball,” she said. “I think there will be a lot of strong teams this year that, across the board, will be pretty even.”
Having been around for a few years now, Montgomery said familiarity will help when the season kicks off.
“I think it will benefit me to know how teams are going to perform,” she said. “I kind of have a little bit better of an idea of what to expect from coaches as far as who’s putting out what kind of team, and their strengths.”
The Bulldogs visit Montrose on Sept. 12 – the site of Moffat County’s 2007 season-ending ouster at the hands of the Indians – but Montgomery said revenge isn’t weighing on the Bulldogs’ minds.
“This year is this year,” she said. “I mean, this year I have a whole different team. I can’t really compare the team that I have right now to what I had last year. We’re going to be talented and do really well, but I don’t think we’re going to be like last year’s team was.”
Although the team is different, Montgomery said the expectations are not.
“Oh, we’ll make the playoffs,” she said. “I have talent. I have a lot of good athletes. I’m just waiting to see how it all plays together and how things just fall together. You know, where that right mesh of girls is going to be.”
As far as team goals, Montgomery said that question was easy to answer.
“Our goal is to just make sure that the ball never hits the floor. The same goal as anybody. I don’t know if it’s easy, but that’s the goal.”