Ava Cramp of the Upper Arlington High School girls volleyball team knew what was at stake for the Golden Bears in their home match against Dublin Coffman on Oct. 14: a share of the OCC-Central Division championship.

Ava Cramp of the Upper Arlington High School girls volleyball team knew what was at stake for the Golden Bears in their home match against Dublin Coffman on Oct. 14: a share of the OCC-Central Division championship.

Evidently, so did many people in the community, as spectators packed UA's gymnasium for the regular-season finale. The Bears lost 25-17, 25-12, 25-22 and missed their chance to win their first OCC title since 2006, but the match provided a lasting memory for Cramp.

"I think we struggled the first few games, but the third game was close and we fought hard," said Cramp, a senior middle hitter who has made a verbal commitment to play for the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif. "The atmosphere was great. (Ticket attendant Marilyn Paulsen) said it's the biggest crowd she's ever seen for a match and she's been (the ticket attendant) for 17 years. Despite the loss, that's something I will always remember."

UA had lost to Coffman 25-20, 25-21, 25-10 in the first round of league play on Sept. 21. In that match, the Bears faded in the third game after two strong games. According to coach Matt Wion, the opposite was true in the rematch with the Shamrocks, who were the Division I state runners-up last season and were third in this year's final state poll.

"We started out a little flat, but we progressively got better with each set," Wion said. "We understand (Coffman is) a very good team, but there was a level of disappointment after the match. We respect (Coffman), but we never thought we couldn't beat them, that they are that much better than us or put them on a pedestal."

As far as Cramp is concerned, UA achieved one of its goals despite falling short of the OCC-Central title.

The Bears finished second in the league at 12-2, behind Coffman (14-0) and ahead of Thomas Worthington (9-5), Worthington Kilbourne (9-5), Central Crossing (6-8), Hilliard Davidson (4-10), Hilliard Darby (2-12) and Westland (0-14).

"Molly's and my goal was to get first or second in the conference. We're very happy," Cramp said, referring to senior libero Molly Lex.

The loss to Coffman was the second in a row for UA, which had lost to Ready - seeded fifth in the Division III district tournament - 25-14, 25-22, 26-24 on Oct. 12. Wion liked the fact that his team played two talented opponents right before starting play in the Division I district tournament.

"We played two very, very good teams," he said. "It's bringing our level of play up. It's a good ending to the (regular) season."

UA, seeded fourth in the district behind Coffman, Olentangy Liberty and Pickerington North, had a first-round bye and defeated Briggs 25-11, 25-9, 25-16 in the second round last Saturday at Columbus East to improve to 19-4 overall.

The Bears played sixth-seeded Watterson in a district semifinal last Wednesday, with the winner advancing to play second-seeded Olentangy Liberty or seventh-seeded Grove City in a district final at 1 p.m. Saturday at Licking Heights.

UA, which has not played Liberty and Grove City this season, has won five district titles, with its most recent coming in 1990. The Bears reached a district semifinal last season as the ninth seed before falling to 10th-seeded Watterson 25-14, 25-27, 25-22, 25-18.

"Everything in the past is done with," Wion said, referring to the regular season. "It's a new season now. If you lose, you're done. We're all aware of that."

"We're proud of (our record)," Cramp said. "We're using that pride to help us move forward in the tournament. This is our time to show we're a very good volleyball team."

The district champion faces Chillicothe, Coffman, Newark or Westerville Central in a regional semifinal on Nov. 4 at Davidson.