The Upper Arlington High School girls volleyball team has virtually the same lineup as it did last season, but that extra year of experience is making a difference.

The Upper Arlington High School girls volleyball team has virtually the same lineup as it did last season, but that extra year of experience is making a difference.

The Golden Bears were 10-4 overall after defeating Whitehall 25-5, 25-5, 25-8 last Monday and is on pace to easily improve on last season's 12-11 mark.

"We're seeing improvement in our stats and win-loss record," coach Brian Pomerantz said. "Some of the improvements we needed to see are subtle. They may not be visible to spectators, but they're noticeable to the coaches and players."

According to Pomerantz, not only have the players' skills improved, but the team leadership is better. He credits the captains -- senior outside-hitters Kate Dangel and Kadie Koeneman -- for providing the leadership.

"Their leadership has really grown," he said.

"We're really working hard to have our team jell even more than last year," Dangel said. "That's our No. 1 priority. If you have good leadership, it helps support the younger players and that makes you a stronger team."

Pomerantz served as an assistant for coach John Stahl last season and was promoted after Stahl resigned. One of first things Pomerantz did as coach was stress the importance of offseason conditioning and he thinks the results prove the players took his message to heart.

The Bears won two five-game matches, defeating Thomas Worthington 18-25, 25-21, 17-25, 25-16, 15-13 on Sept. 1 and Hilliard Darby 14-25, 25-12, 27-25, 21-25, 15-8 on Sept. 8. In both matches, they overcame losing the first game.

"We're more physically fit than other teams," Pomerantz said. "The longer a match and the longer a game goes, the stronger we get. We've never been beaten badly by anybody. We've hung in there."

"Coach Pomerantz got us working in the weight room and doing more conditioning in the preseason, and I think it's helped us," Dangel said.

UA, which last won an OCC championship in 2006, was 3-3 in the OCC-Central Division before playing Worthington Kilbourne last Tuesday. It began the second round of league play with a 25-23, 25-15, 25-22 win over Thomas Worthington on Sept. 24 but would need to win out to have any chance of capturing the league title.

The Bears lost to the Wolves in the first round of league play, falling 25-23, 25-12, 22-25, 25-18 on Sept. 3. Their other league losses came against Hilliard Davidson, 25-21, 25-22, 25-22 on Sept. 17, and Dublin Coffman, 25-22, 25-19, 25-22 on Sept. 22. They play host to Davidson on Oct. 13 and travel to Coffman on Oct. 15.

Pomerantz was encouraged by his team's performance against Coffman, which was ranked second in the Division I state poll behind Cincinnati Ursuline Academy and was 12th in MaxPreps Xcellent 25 national poll that same week.

"Coffman is No. 12 in the nation," he said. "It makes us look back and say we're doing well. But it also says there's nothing stopping us from getting better. We know we did well, but we know we can get better."

"Even though we lost to Coffman, we saw that we can hold our own against them, that they're not miles ahead of us," Dangel said.

"Next time we play them, we know what to expect. We won't be taken aback by them."

Through nine matches, Koeneman was leading the team with 85 kills and 59 digs and was second in serve-receive percentage (62.0). Dangel was leading in aces (23) and serve-receive percentage (65.0) and was second in kills (75) and outside-hitter Kelly Hutchinson was first in blocks (31 1/2).


At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedule for the Upper Arlington girls volleyball team:

Aug. 29 -- Lost to Ready 25-23, 25-13; defeated Mount Vernon 18-25, 25-22, 25-18 *Sept. 1 -- Def. Thomas Worthington 18-25, 25-21, 17-25, 25-16, 15-13 *Sept. 3 -- Lost to Worthington Kilbourne 25-23, 25-12, 22-25, 25-18 *Sept. 8 -- Def. Hilliard Darby 14-25, 25-12, 27-25, 21-25, 15-8 Sept. 10 -- Def. Newark 25-27, 25-16, 25-20, 25-17 Sept. 14 -- Def. Centennial 25-18, 25-15, 25-10 Sept. 15 -- Def. Olentangy Orange 25-9, 14-25, 25-23, 25-23 *Sept. 17 -- Lost to Hilliard Davidson 25-21, 25-22, 25-22 *Sept. 22 -- Lost to Dublin Coffman 25-22, 25-19, 25-22 *Sept. 24 -- Def. Thomas Worthington 25-23, 25-15, 25-22 Last Saturday -- Def. Hilliard Bradley 25-20, 25-19; def. Westerville South 25-15, 25-15 Last Monday -- Played Whitehall *Last Tuesday -- Played Worthington Kilbourne *Today -- At Hilliard Darby Tuesday -- Home vs. Newark Oct. 8 -- At Olentangy Orange

Of note: The Bears were 9-4 overall before last Monday and were 3-3 in the OCC before last Tuesday.

*OCC-Central match