Brown County’s volleyball team has had a rough start to its season.

After a 3-0 loss to Owen Valley on Aug. 30, the Eagles were 1-6 for the season. They took last place out of six at the Brown County Invitational on Aug. 27.

But their record is not for lack of tough play.

During the invitational, Brown County faced Greencastle and Edinburgh in their pool leading up to the final pairings. The Eagles won against Greencastle 2-1 and lost to Edinburgh 2-1. Greencastle then beat Edinburgh 2-0.

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While a points-based decision had Brown County playing Indian Creek to decide fifth and sixth place for the invitational, there was never a point during their matches when the Eagles could be counted out.

“I thought they did great,” head coach Julie Owens said. “You know, we went three sets with everyone, and we pushed it to the point where we gave ourselves a chance to win in every match.”

Even in the final showdown with Indian Creek, Brown County pursued the Braves to a 27-25 loss in the first set, taking the next set 25-15. In the final set, they lost momentum and never took it back, ending 15-8.

“These girls are just trying to find a way to believe that they should succeed,” Owens said.

Players dwell on mistakes, getting hung up on what went wrong rather than moving on with the rest of the game, she said.

Several times throughout the invitational, the change on the floor was visible as the Eagles lost their momentum while trailing or struggling to hold the lead.

“I think they start to worry about, ‘Are we gonna lose because I made that mistake?’” Owens said. “I think it starts to carry over.

“They want to do well so bad that they put too much pressure on themselves. They don’t want to let anybody down,” Owens said. “They want to show people all the work that they’ve done and how we’ve gotten better.”

Most of this year’s team wasn’t around when the Eagles were winning regularly, she said. Along with that goes a lack of experience with each other. Unlike some of the teams they have faced, the Eagles don’t have years of playing together behind them.

“It takes a while to get a groove,” she said. “Our girls are still trying to get the feel of that.”

However, the team has become more proficient, Owens said.

In pre-match warm-ups, the Eagles look like a well-oiled machine as they run through their drills.

“These girls literally spend 12 months out of the year playing volleyball,” Owens said. “They’ve made it a priority to give that kind of dedication to our sport.”

As the season progresses, Owens expects that dedication to begin paying off. Just getting a few wins under their belt could make all the difference.

Owens recalled a tradition she had with her father, former Eagles basketball coach Roger Fleetwood.

“My dad always used to call me after my first win and say, ‘Hey, you can’t lose ‘em all,’” she said. “It was kind of a joke between us, because we’re both coaches, but it’s the honest-to-God truth.

“Once people get into their heads that it’s possible, it takes a lot of pressure off, and then you can just go out and play,” she said.

Ultimately, the focus is on sectionals, with every lesson learned from the season leading up to that time, Owens said.

“We don’t expect to be perfect at this point,” she said. “What we’re trying to do is get better every time we go out and play.”

Volleyball roster

Freshmen: Chloe Lee, Haley Davidson

Sophomores: Maggie Redmond, Evey Crimmins, Baelyn Koester, Shea Keller, Mekenzie Dunnuck

Juniors Kaitlyn Pearson, Madalyn Allen, Hallee Miller, Grace Lee

Seniors: Ryanne Smith, Vanessa Hoskins, Elisabeth Huls, Faith Williams, Delaney Bond

Ben Kibbey is a Brown County transplant from the cornfields of central Ohio. He covers county government, business, outdoors, sports and general news.