At times during volleyball matches, Jonesboro coach Dan Maehlman has looked out on the court and seen his young team play with some of the top-ranked teams in the state.
At other times, he hasn't been as pleased with his team.
It been somewhat of a roller-coaster season for the Cardinals as they adjust from the graduation of three starters, included two that earned volleyball scholarships.
Of the nine losses, seven have come to teams that have been ranked.
"It been a situation where we have beaten the teams that we were suppose to beat," Maehlman said. "At times we play played well against some of the better teams, but always seem to struggle at some point."
Maehlman was thinking that a trip to Brunswick would speed up the learning process. Instead, the Cardinals returned with more questions than answers after struggling in the Volleyball at the Beach tournament.
Jonesboro lost to Our Lady of Mercy, Northview and Brookwood.
"None of these were powerhouse teams, but they were good teams," Maehlman said. "The girls are not playing at the level I want them to be at. It is not even close. The big problem is we don't have any leaders to step up. I think that is why we are struggling."
Senior Jasmine Mitchell, a senior, agreed.
"It has been a lack of communication and heart," she said. "Some people are out there playing just to play, and not to win. We don't have that much competitiveness about ourselves."
Mitchell acknowledges that stepping up to be a leader has been an adjustment.
"Last season as a junior, you watch the seniors lead," Mitchell said. "It has not been as easy as it looked in trying to lead. You want others to step up and follow your example."
She said this past weekend in Brunswick was definitely disheartening.
"It was upsetting," Mitchell said. "I don't think we were ready to play. It was good as vacation, but don't think it helped us as a team."
The Cardinals, who are 8-9 overall and 4-0 in Area 4-AAAA North, will take a break from the action this week. Jonesboro will host Dutchtown and Lovejoy on Sept. 20 before playing at Woodland on Sept. 22.
The county tournament will be on Oct. 1 at Forest Park.
Maehlman is hoping by then that the team has jelled into an area contender. Last season, the Cardinals advanced to the school's first Elite Eight tournament.
"I believe we can win as a coach," Maehlman said. "The question is do the girls believe they can win. Right now, I just don't see it. Sometimes I feel real good about this team, and at others I don't like what I see."