Second-year Upper Arlington High School boys volleyball coach Matt Wion knows his team is facing a rebuilding season.

Second-year Upper Arlington High School boys volleyball coach Matt Wion knows his team is facing a rebuilding season.

The Golden Bears return only three letterwinners in seniors Dan Anugerah (outside hitter) and Mark Finneran (libero) and junior Michael Schroer (setter/outside hitter), and only Finneran and Schroer saw significant playing time last year, Wion said.

UA finished 7-14 overall last season and went 3-7 in the OCC-Ohio Division to tie Worthington Kilbourne for fourth, behind Hilliard Darby (10-0), Hilliard Davidson (8-2) and Dublin Coffman (6-4) and ahead of Thomas Worthington (0-10).

The Bears, who have not had a winning season since 2005, lost to Davidson 25-14, 25-21, 28-26 in the first round of the Division I regional tournament.

"I think it's going to be (a rebuilding year)," said Wion, whose team opened March 29 with a league match against Darby. "We look at it as being a year of trying to develop the program. We're going to throw a bunch of (first-year varsity players) in there and build for the future. It will be a great learning experience.

"We have nine sophomores in the program, including three on varsity, and that's great in terms of developing the program."

Joining the three returnees on the roster are seniors Michael Kilstrom (middle hitter), Aladin Saleh (opposite hitter) and Joey Simon (outside hitter), junior Taha Algothani (outside hitter) and sophomores Sean Forquer (defensive specialist), Josh Jackson (middle hitter) and Paul Linville (opposite hitter/setter).

Junior defensive specialists Byron Bruno and Phil Shera also could see varsity action, Wion said.

"Our No. 1 thing is we define success on our terms, not by our record," Wion said. "Having the individuals improve will lead to our team improving. We want everyone to get out there, try their best and have fun.

"I think from where we start the season to where we finish, you will see great improvement."

UA lost two key players from a year ago in 6-foot-6 middle hitter/setter Andrew Craine, who graduated and is playing for Division I Lewis University in Romeoville, Ill., and 6-5 middle hitter Cody Palmer, who opted not to return for his senior season.

Craine, whom Wion called "the heart and soul" of the team, was named first-team all-league and all-region last season. Palmer was honorable mention all-league.

"Andrew Craine was a major part of our offense," Wion said. "A player like that is pretty much irreplaceable. ... We're looking for (Schroer) to lead us offensively, and we're looking for Mark Finneran to lead us defensively."

The losses of Craine and Palmer also are significant from a height standpoint. No one on the team this season is taller than 6-1.

"We're lacking a little bit in height," Wion said. "That kind of changes the aspects of our game. We have to be a good passing team."