A five-game loss on the first night of the season set the tone for the Upper Arlington High School boys volleyball team -- not because they lost, but how.
The Golden Bears fell to Dublin Coffman 26-24, 26-28, 10-25, 28-26, 15-13 in an OCC-Ohio Division contest, putting up the fight that has symbolized their season despite entering the week 4-12 overall and 2-8 in the league.
Of the 34 games UA had lost entering its regular-season finale May 7 against St. Charles, 20 had been by seven points or fewer and four more were by eight or nine points.
"We battle hard," senior outside hitter Max Zambito said. "Our team, a lot of us we've played only for three or four years compared to other teams that have middle school programs, so coming in we have a little bit of a disadvantage. But I think that our team works really hard on the court and we're always trying to get a win. It doesn't happen sometimes, but we never stop trying."
UA's four wins through 16 matches were against Thomas Worthington (25-20, 25-17, 18-25, 26-24 on April 11), Olentangy (21-25, 25-20, 25-23 on April 20), Westerville North (20-15, 25-15, 25-11, 22-25, 15-13 on April 24) and Coffman (26-24, 25-20, 21-25, 25-15 on April 25). The wins over Thomas and Coffman were in league play.
With seven seniors on the roster, coach Matt Wion was hoping for a better season. But the disappointment is balanced by the program having two junior varsity teams for the first time and several underclassmen getting considerable varsity time.
"We've been fairly competitive with almost every team we have played," Wion said. "We have our ups and downs, specifically on serve receive and our offense, but we're really competitive with every team we have played. Another thing that's really great is both of our j.v. teams have had a lot of success. That's our freshmen and sophomores who will be playing the next couple years."
Some of the younger players making an impact within the past few weeks have been sophomore Gabe Orr and freshmen Harrison Jackson, both outside hitters and defensive specialists, as well as juniors Harrison Chiles (outside hitter) and Eddie Simpson (defensive specialist) and sophomore Garret Jones (defensive specialist). Their presence has led to different lineups in almost every match.
"We're just trying out new things and seeing what's working," said senior caption Paul Linville, a right-side and outside hitter. "It's a good sign for years to come."
Upper Arlington will play Gahanna on Saturday, May 11, at Westerville South in the first round of the Division I East Region tournament.
Baseball, softball teams eye postseason
Despite a five-game winning streak leading up to the Division I district tournament draw May 5 at Pickerington Central, the baseball team is seeded 26th of 41 teams and will visit 23rd-seeded Hilliard Bradley for a first-round game Monday, May 13.
The winner will play at 15th-seeded Westerville South in the second round Wednesday, May 15, with the second-round winner playing sixth-seeded Gahanna or Westland in a district semifinal May 20 at Grove City.
UA swept Westland in OCC-Central play, winning 5-2 on May 1 and 15-2 in six innings May 3, but has not played Bradley, South or Gahanna.
The softball team is seeded 23rd of 42 teams in the Division I district tournament and will play host to 28th-seeded New Albany in the first round Tuesday, May 14. The winner will play at fifth-seeded Olentangy Orange in the second round May 16.
The Bears defeated New Albany 8-5 on April 5 despite committing six errors. They have not played Orange this season.
"I thought we got seeded right where we belonged," coach Todd DelBoccio said. "It's a nice draw. New Albany is a lot like us. When we play error-less ball, we play great games. When we make errors, we come out on the losing end."
Boys lacrosse team wins MSLCA title
The boys lacrosse team defeated Bloomfield Township (Mich.) Brother Rice 9-4 in the A bracket final of the Midwest Scholastic Lacrosse Coaches Association Tournament on May 4 at Thomas Worthington to improve to 10-1 overall.
Senior attacker Zac Stowe had three goals and junior attacker Cam Marsh and senior midfielder Zach Shy both scored two. Senior goalkeeper Jack Warmolts had 19 saves.
UA defeated Cincinnati Moeller 6-5 in a semifinal May 3, scoring the game's final three goals. The Bears also were scheduled to play the Crusaders on April 11, but the game was canceled because of bad weather.
UA was 4-0 in the OCC-Buckeye before playing Worthington Kilbourne on May 8 and would have clinched the outright league championship with a win over the Wolves.
In a 10-6 league win over Dublin Jerome on April 30, Warmolts had 13 saves and scored his first career goal.