The Upper Arlington High School boys volleyball team exceeded its expectations despite finishing 10-11.

The Upper Arlington High School boys volleyball team exceeded its expectations despite finishing 10-11.

"I thought five wins would be incredible," junior middle-hitter Andrew Craine said. "Three was what we were shooting for. To get 10, I was in shock."

The Golden Bears returned only three players -- Craine, senior outside-hitter Yousef Alghothani and junior setter Ben Zambito -- with experience from a year ago, when they finished 11-12.

"Andrew and I and my assistant, Chris Greathouse, sat down in March to talk about the team and, looking at who we had coming back, we expected three to five wins this year," coach Brian Pomerantz said. "To come out with 10 wins, especially in a tough (league), that says a lot about the guys. It was a great team effort. The kids bought into what we taught them."

Tenth-seeded UA lost to top-seeded Mount Vernon 25-12, 25-16, 25-14 in a Division I regional semifinal May 20. Mount Vernon went on to win a regional championship and advance to the state tournament, which will be held Saturday and Sunday at Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit.

"We played well," Craine said. "They just played a lot better."

"Our guys hung in there on an individual level," Pomerantz said. "It was a tremendous challenge to undertake."

The Bears had defeated 14th-seeded Pickerington Central 25-12, 25-21, 25-14 in the first round May 16, earning their first win in the tournament since 2005.

"It was a big step for the guys," Pomerantz said. "Not winning a tournament match can drag on you, drag on the program."

UA finished 2-8 in the OCC-Ohio Division to place fifth behind Hilliard Darby (9-1), Worthington Kilbourne (9-1), Hilliard Davidson (6-4) and Dublin Coffman (4-6) and ahead of Thomas Worthington (0-10). The Bears beat Thomas 25-18, 25-13, 25-21 on April 16 and 25-16, 25-15, 25-14 on May 5.

"We grew through the season and improved greatly," Craine said. "People came up to me (late in the season) and said, 'Wow, you're better than you were earlier in the season.' I'm proud of my team."

UA will lose five seniors in Alghothani, Adel Dada (middle hitter), J.T. Hansel (outside hitter), Mike Heyl (libero/defensive specialist) and Adam Teach (middle hitter). Alghothani, Hansel and Heyl were regular starters, and Alghothani was honorable mention all-league.

Expected to return are Craine, juniors Isaac Ackers (middle hitter), Matt Golden (defensive specialist/libero), Michael Posner (opposite hitter) and Ben Zambito (setter) and freshman Michael Schroer (outside hitter). Craine, Ackers and Zambito were regular starters.

Craine, who set a program record with 286 kills, made second-team all-region and all-league.

"We have high hopes for next year," Pomerantz said.

At a glance

•Record: 10-11 overall, 2-8 (fifth) in OCC-Ohio

•Seniors lost: Yousef Alghothani, Adel Dada, J.T. Hansel, Mike Heyl and Adam Teach

•Key returnees: Isaac Ackers, Andrew Craine and Ben Zambito