Upper Arlington High School boys volleyball coach Brian Pomerantz did not set lofty goals for his team. He simply wanted it to improve minimally on last season, when it finished 5-17.

Upper Arlington High School boys volleyball coach Brian Pomerantz did not set lofty goals for his team. He simply wanted it to improve minimally on last season, when it finished 5-17.

But the Golden Bears finished 11-12. Pomerantz believes the six-win increase constitutes a significant improvement, especially given the fact that the Bears returned only three letterwinners.

"Based on the expectations that I had in May 2007, we went well beyond what I anticipated," Pomerantz said.

UA not only posted its best record this season since going 12-11 in 2005, but its victory total equaled the number of wins it had over the last two seasons combined. The Bears finished 6-18 in 2006.

"This year was really amazing," sophomore setter Ben Zambito said. "It just shows you what focus can do for a team."

UA lost to fourth-seeded Mount Vernon 25-20, 29-27, 25-14 in the first round of the Division I district tournament May 17.

"They're a good team, and we played them extremely well," Pomerantz said. "The kids played a great match. We were down eight points in the first two games and battled back and we had a game point in the second game. For us to take them to (29-27 in the second game) and even have a game point against them was spectacular.

"If you're going to go out, you want to go out fighting. I thought we put up a good fight. We hung in there with them."

UA went 4-4 in the OCC-Ohio Division to place third behind Gahanna (7-1) and Hilliard Darby (6-2) and ahead of Dublin Coffman (2-6) and Thomas Worthington (1-7). The Bears had gone 2-6 in the league last season and placed fourth.

Pomerantz was named OCC-Ohio Coach of the Year.

"We didn't have the best record, but my peers noticed where we were (last season) and where we are this year," he said. "They know how far we've come. I told the kids, 'You won it for me. You're the reason I won it.'"

UA will lose seniors Kyle Cline (outside hitter), Chris Greathouse (middle hitter), Kevin Link (opposite hitter) and Mark Riley (outside hitter).

Cline, who was first on the team in digs (179) and third in kills (145), was named first-team all-league. Greathouse, who was second on the team in kills (152) and third in blocks (82) and digs (131), made second-team all-league. Link, who was second on the team in digs (171) and blocks (101) and fourth in kills (87), was honorable mention all-league.

Cline and Greathouse were honorable mention all-region.

"I hate to lose those kids," Pomerantz said. "We'll be doing some rebuilding next year, but the kids we have coming in are dedicated to keeping it going."

Expected to return are Zambito, junior Yousef Alghothani (libero) and sophomores Andrew Craine (middle hitter) and Matt Garbellini (defensive specialist).

Craine led the team in kills (164) and blocks (116) and was fourth in digs (102) and was second-team all-league. Zambito set the program record for assists in a season with 499, eclipsing the previous mark of 343 set by A.J. Zeno in 2005.

"It's bittersweet letting go of those talented seniors," Zambito said. "Next year will be a rebuilding year, quite honestly, but we're still looking to get things done. We won't have as much talent next year, but we didn't win this year with talent. We won with focus."

At a glance

•Record: 11-12 overall, 4-4 (third) in OCC-Ohio

•Seniors lost: Kyle Cline, Chris Greathouse, Kevin Link and Mark Riley

•Key returnees: Yousef Alghothani, Andrew Craine and Ben Zambito