The Upper Arlington High School girls volleyball team reached a Division I district semifinal for the first time since 2004.

The Upper Arlington High School girls volleyball team reached a Division I district semifinal for the first time since 2004.

The ninth-seeded Golden Bears defeated Delaware 29-27, 25-18, 12-25, 25-18 in the first round of the tournament Oct. 20 and edged 12th-seeded Dresden Tri-Valley 23-25, 25-16, 25-10, 21-25, 15-10 in the second round last Saturday to improve to 16-8 overall.

UA played 10th-seeded Watterson in a district semifinal last Tuesday, with the winner playing top-seeded Dublin Coffman or Teays Valley in a district final at 11 a.m. Saturday at Licking Heights. The district champion advances to a regional semifinal Wednesday at Hilliard Davidson against second-seeded Pickerington North, fifth-seeded Davidson, sixth-seeded Worthington Kilbourne or Newark. The match will start at approximately 7:30 p.m., after the other semifinal match.

The regional final is Nov. 7 at Davidson.

"That's a goal that we set early in the year," coach Brian Pomerantz said of reaching a district semifinal. "We weren't concerned with the (OCC-Central Division) championship and we weren't concerned with point differentials. All we knew was that we wanted to make a good run at tournament time, and so far, so good."

UA, which advanced to a district semifinal for the fourth time in the last 12 years and hasn't won a district championship since 1990, won only one postseason match in the previous four seasons.

That win came in 2006, when the Bears defeated Whetstone 25-10, 25-10, 25-4 in the first round before losing to Thomas Worthington 25-9, 25-22, 25-19 in the second round. The last two seasons, the Bears lost in the second round after having a first-round bye.

The win over Tri-Valley marked the sixth match UA has won this season despite losing the first game. Entering the match against Watterson, the Bears were 6-6 in matches in which they lost the first game.

"Unfortunately, we're not a first game kind of team," outside-hitter Kadie Koeneman said. "I really can't tell you why we start that way. But it's something we've been able to overcome. We're the kind of team that can come back when we're down. A lot of the girls are really good at focusing, and we get the job done."

"We're a never-say-die club," Pomerantz said. "One loss is not the end of the world. We keep it in perspective and move on."

The win over Tri-Valley also raised the Bears' record to 5-0 in five-game matches.

"We attribute that to all the hard work (the players) put in in the offseason," Pomerantz said. "Mentally, they're very tough. And physically, they're very tough. It's nice that the younger kids can see that when you do work that hard in June, July and August, it has tangible results come October."

In the fifth game against Tri-Valley, UA jumped out to a 4-0 lead behind the serving of outside-hitter Kate Dangel, and the Scotties would get no closer than two points. Outside-hitter Lizzie Hansel had a kill on match point.

"I think we're all real intense players and our intensity drives us to stay really focused," Koeneman said of the Bears' success in five-game matches. "I mean, sure, we get nervous. But overall, we're really good at keeping up and staying with it."

UA lost both of its matches against Coffman in OCC-Central play, losing 25-22, 25-19, 25-22 on Sept. 22 and 25-6, 25-7, 25-12 on Oct. 15, but has not played Teays Valley this season. The Bears also went 0-2 in league play against both Davidson and Kilbourne, losing to the Wildcats 25-21, 25-22, 25-22 on Sept. 17 and 18-25, 25-20, 25-22, 29-27 on Oct. 13 and losing to the Wolves 25-23, 25-12, 22-25, 25-18 on Sept. 3 and 25-22, 25-18, 17-25, 25-22 on Sept. 29, but defeated Newark 24-26, 19-25, 25-17, 25-22, 15-11 on Oct. 6. They have not played Pickerington North.

UA finished 4-6 in the OCC-Central to tie Thomas Worthington for fourth behind Coffman (10-0), Davidson (7-3) and Kilbourne (5-5) and ahead of Hilliard Darby (0-10).

UA's Kelly Hutchison (center) celebrates with teammates Kadie Koeneman, Janine Berger (2) and Kate Dangle during a 29-27, 25-18, 12-25, 25-18 victory over Delaware on Oct. 20 during the Division I district tournament.

At a glance

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

*Oct. 13 -- Lost to Hilliard Davidson 18-25, 25-20, 25-22, 29-27

*Oct. 15 -- Lost to Dublin Coffman 25-6, 25-7, 25-12

Oct. 20 -- Defeated Delaware 29-27, 25-18, 12-25, 25-18 in first round of Division I district tournament

Last Saturday -- Def. Dresden Tri-Valley 23-25, 25-16, 25-10, 21-25, 15-10 in second round of tournament

Last Tuesday -- Played 10th-seeded Watterson in district semifinal. Winner plays top-seeded Coffman or Teays Valley in district final Saturday (11 a.m.) at Licking Heights. District champion advances to regional semifinal Wednesday (7:30 p.m.) at Davidson against second-seeded Pickerington North, fifth-seeded Davidson, sixth-seeded Worthington Kilbourne or Newark.

Of note: The Bears were 16-8 overall before last Tuesday and finished 4-6 in the OCC-Central.

*OCC-Central contest