SPRINGFIELD — The victories that came in bunches last year have been replaced by injuries and disappointment. The growing pile of adversity is a hurdle that Effingham County’s volleyball team, including coach Brittany Lein, is trying to figure out how to overcome. “I’m struggling because we have to find a way,” Lein said after the Lady Rebels were swept by Region 2-AAAAAA rival Richmond Hill on Thursday. “I keep trying to preach to these girls. Things like this — this is life.” Effingham County entered the season with high expectations even though three girls who contributed to its 2017 Class AAAAAA Final Four run opted not to play this year. Still, six seniors who helped the Lady Rebels post a 24-6 mark, including 19 straight wins to start the season, returned. The senior core, however, absorbed a major blow when libero Andrea Garcia sustained a season-ending knee injury during warmups before an Aug. 23 match at Calvary Day. The shocking event, made more so by the fact that Garcia spent the entire offseason rehabbing an injury to her other knee, set the stage for lopsided losses to Calvary Day and Glynn Academy. Effingham County is 2-2 since losing Garcia, including Thursday’s sweep of region foe Bradwell Institute, leaving it with a 5-5 overall mark and a 1-1 ledger in 2-AAAAAA. Unfortunately, Garcia’s injury isn’t the lone medical issue that has plagued the Lady Rebels. Rachel Bass was also hobbled by a knee injury and other girls are playing hurt, limiting their ability to practice. “I’m trying to teach them some life lessons that this goes beyond high school volleyball,” Lein said. “People are going to be hurt, people are going to let you down, people are going to get taken from different areas of their lives and we have to find a way that we can still come together and rise above that, and do it because we care about each other and we are a team.” Lein is working diligently to convince the Lady Rebels that the season isn’t lost despite their early troubles. “Believe me, I am losing sleep at night trying to find a way to bring these girls together to show up everyday because they are a team and they are here to support the rest of the girls on the team,” she said. “They are not in it for ‘me,’ like themselves. They are in it for one another because they care about the sport and they care that much about each other.” See the Sept. 5 edition of the Effingham Herald for more details.