There were essentially two obstacles. The first is that we lost one of our swing hitters early on when she quit to work instead. That was seriously demoralizing and they never really got over that in terms of believing what they were capable of. It was compounded when we found a replacement only to find she was 28 days too old to play on our team.
The second problem is that they all come from a high school background where losing is just an accepted part of what they do. I'd stop short of saying that they expect it, but it doesn't matter if they do. They simply don't know how to win, so they give up when they lose a few points. They come from losing high school programs, and worse, some of them have taken a beating in the self-esteem department from their coaches. Most unfortunate.
So that's my challenge for the remainder of the year, trying to teach them to win. I saw a glimmer of hope in the last match we played. We were playing the sixth ranked team in the region, and they were pretty bad ass. You could see it in their eyes that they knew it was a team they might have beat if they would've kept their heads in the game. Both games were lost 18-25, and in both games the point difference came from a run of botched serve receives. Take those runs out and they knew they were actually competing.
Despite these challenges, they're a great bunch of girls. I've never had a group that, right to the end, all got along and enjoyed being together. I don't have any personal conflicts with any of them either. It's really how it should be. This year I've had the talent, the team dynamic, but not the expectation of success. I guess except for that last part, it's not what I'll remember years down the road anyway.