First-year coach Matt Wion continues to learn about his personnel on the Upper Arlington High School boys volleyball team, but it didn't take long for him to realize that Andrew Craine is the centerpiece of his squad.

First-year coach Matt Wion continues to learn about his personnel on the Upper Arlington High School boys volleyball team, but it didn't take long for him to realize that Andrew Craine is the centerpiece of his squad.

Craine, a 6-foot-6 senior who is drawing interest from college coaches, set a program record with 286 kills last season and was named second-team all-region and all-OCC-Ohio Division. Though a middle hitter, he also will see time as an outside hitter, an opposite hitter and a setter, according to Wion.

"He's everything to our team," said Wion, whose team opened last Tuesday with an OCC-Ohio match at Worthington Kilbourne and plays host to Hilliard Darby today in a league contest. "Everyone on the team looks up to him. He's an amazing volleyball player. ... He can play any position. He's that great of a player. He can do it all."

Craine is one of five returning letterwinners, joining seniors Isaac Ackers (middle hitter), Matt Golden (libero/defensive specialist) and Michael Posner (opposite hitter) and sophomore Michael Schroer (outside hitter). Only Craine and Ackers were starters last season.

Also on the team are seniors Jake Bishop (outside hitter), Zach Mitchell (middle hitter) and Jim Rayo (defensive specialist), juniors Dan Anugerah (defensive specialist), Mark Finneran (defensive specialist), Ben Foster (outside hitter) and Cody Palmer (opposite hitter) and sophomore Austin Bruns (setter).

UA lost three starters from a year ago to graduation in outside hitters Yousef Alghothani and J.T. Hansel and libero Mike Heyl. Another starter, setter Ben Zambito, opted not to play his senior season.

Alghothani made honorable mention all-league last year.

"We have several guys who never played before and several guys who have played only a little bit, so we're very inexperienced," Wion said. "But even though we lack experience, they're trying really hard. They're not lacking a desire to get better. We have the whole season to learn and develop."

UA finished 10-11 overall last season. Seeded 10th in the Division I regional tournament, the Golden Bears defeated 14th-seeded Pickerington Central 25-12, 25-21, 25-14 in the first round, marking their first postseason win since 2005, before losing to top-seeded Mount Vernon 25-12, 25-16, 25-14 in a regional semifinal.

UA went 2-8 in the OCC-Ohio last season to place fifth, behind co-champions Darby and Kilbourne at 9-1 as well as Hilliard Davidson (6-4) and Dublin Coffman (4-6), and ahead of Thomas Worthington (0-10).

The Bears have had only one winning season since 2002, finishing 12-11 in 2005. They were 11-12 in 2008.

"We want to be at least .500," Craine said.

"The last two years, we've been around .500, so we want to keep that going. It's very attainable."

Wion, 26, was hired last January to replace Brian Pomerantz, who stepped down after three seasons because of "a family commitment." Wion coached the eighth-grade girls team at Hastings Middle School the last two seasons.

"Our goal is just to move forward each day," Wion said. "We want to be the best we can be, and I have all the faith in the world that the guys can do that."

Wion said Pomerantz continues to help with the coaching transition.

"Brian has been a tremendous help to me," he said. "He has done so much for the program. I greatly appreciate that."

•DOUBLE DUTY -- Wion will oversee both varsity programs, as he recently was named coach of the girls team. Pomerantz coached both teams for one year before resigning from both positions last December.

"I'm extremely excited," Wion said. "Being the head of all Upper Arlington volleyball was my goal."

In Pomerantz's only season as the girls coach last fall, UA finished 16-9 overall and tied Thomas for fourth in the OCC-Central at 4-6, behind Coffman (10-0), Davidson (7-3) and Kilbourne (5-5) and ahead of Darby (0-10).

Seeded ninth, UA reached a district semifinal for the first time since 2004 before losing to 10th-seeded Watterson 25-14, 25-27, 25-22, 25-18.

At a glance

•Coach: Matt Wion, first season

•Next match: Today vs. Darby

•Key players: Isaac Ackers and Andrew Craine


*March 30 at Worthington Kilbourne

*April 1 vs. Hilliard Darby

*April 6 vs. Hilliard Davidson

April 8 vs. Dublin Scioto

April 9-10 at Cleveland St. Ignatius Classic

April 13 at Delaware

*April 15 at Thomas Worthington

April 16-17 at Worthington Kilbourne's Wolf Open

*April 20 at Dublin Coffman

*April 22 vs. Worthington Kilbourne

*April 27 at Hilliard Darby

*April 29 at Hilliard Davidson

*May 4 vs. Thomas Worthington

*May 6 vs. Dublin Coffman

May 8 at Beavercreek with Cincinnati McNicholas

May 11 vs. Whetstone

*OCC-Ohio match