As a first-year high school boys volleyball coach of a startup program, Westerville Central's Josh Chiero remained upbeat throughout the preseason, but didn't really know what to expect from 16 players who really never had played the sport.

As a first-year high school boys volleyball coach of a startup program, Westerville Central's Josh Chiero remained upbeat throughout the preseason, but didn't really know what to expect from 16 players who really never had played the sport.

After watching his team fall to Dublin Jerome 26-24, 25-21, 25-18 on May 21 in the Division II East Region tournament, Chiero knew it would be a tough loss to shake after his team entered the postseason ranked 10th in the final state poll.

Still, at 13-12 overall, the Warhawks surprised many with their determined effort.

In the OCC-Capital Division, Central was 5-5 behind Mount Vernon (10-0) and Dublin Jerome (8-2) and ahead of Olentangy Liberty (4-6), Pickerington Central (3-7) and Delaware (0-10).

"It really reflects on the kids and it doesn't get to be that way without the guys being as dedicated as they were," said Chiero, who played volleyball at Westerville South. "They could not have performed better this season. They're a great group of kids and our record speaks volumes about these kids. You ask any coach in the league and they'll tell you the same thing."

Chiero began the season with 16 players on varsity and junior varsity. Six seniors -- Caleb Chiero, Keegan Varner, Michael Coleman, Kevin Seigal, Marr Mansfield and Tyler Cochran -- helped put the program on the map.

Caleb Chiero was first-team all-region and first-team all-league.

The Warhawks expect to be even stronger next season with the return of junior Drew Fisher (middle blocker) and sophomores Luke Meissmer (libero) and Max VanMeter (middle blocker).

Meissmer was second-team all-region and second-team all-league.

"We have high hopes for next year," coach Chiero said. "This was our first year, and I don't expect anything less next year."

• South coach Chris Bielby realizes his top priority in the offseason will be recruiting with six seniors among this season's 12-player roster.

The Wildcats had little experience as a first-year program and finished 2-18 overall and 0-10 in the OCC-Cardinal behind Hilliard Davidson (10-0), Worthington Kilbourne (8-2), Pickerington North (6-4), Dublin Scioto (4-6) and Westerville North (2-8).

"I've heard through the halls at school that other guys want to try out next year and maybe we'll get some basketball players out," Bielby said. "For some of these guys, it's the only sport that they've ever played in high school. Some people just walk on the court and want to play. We just try to find out what they're skills are."

Without enough players, South did not participate in the postseason.

The season ended with a 25-22, 25-20, 22-25, 25-19 win over Gahanna Christian on May 13.

The Wildcats will lose seniors Casey Bogosian, Blake Cattrell, Prince Evans, Mike Mehta, Andrew Murnane, Peter Okwuosah, Brandon Shepherd and Brian Stalter.

The top players expected to return are juniors Wesley Bluvstein (outside hitter), Jesse Hofmann (middle hitter) and Chris Laitple (setter) and sophomore Troy Burse (middle hitter).

"For the Westerville teams to be competitive, we really need to get guys involved at the middle school level," Bielby said. "That's how Hilliard Darby and Worthington Kilbourne have been so successful."

• North suffered through a testy schedule with the same inexperience and an eight-player roster to finish at 3-15 overall and 2-8 in the OCC-Cardinal.

"We played a number of ranked teams and that didn't help," first-year coach Vicki Phillips said. "But we improved each and every day. We had five brand new players this season so we really had to focus on fundamentals."

The Warriors' season ended May 17 with a 6-25, 8-25, 10-25 loss to third-seeded Kilbourne in the Division I East Region tournament. The Wolves reached a state quarterfinal for the sixth time.

No seniors were on the roster this season so Phillips expects to have everybody back next year with, hopefully, a bigger turnout.

Among the top returnees are juniors Sam Kennedy (outside hitter) and Brad Mason (middle hitter), sophomore outside hitter Ben Taylor (honorable mention all-league) and freshman setter Alex Kirkpatrick (second-team all-league).

"I know we've got some other guys coming up, but Chris and I have been talking about developing a middle school program," Phillips said. "I told each one of our guys that it was a hard season, but they all earned a lot of game experience."

At a glance

CENTRAL

•Record: 13-12 overall, 5-5 (third) in OCC-Capital

•Seniors lost: Caleb Chiero, Tyler Cochran, Michael Coleman, Marr Mansfield, Kevin Seigal and Keegan Varner

•Key returnees: Drew Fisher, Luke Meissmer and Max VanMeter

SOUTH

•Record: 2-18 overall, 0-10 (sixth) in OCC-Cardinal

•Seniors lost: Casey Bogosian, Blake Cattrell, Prince Evans, Mike Mehta, Andrew Murnane, Peter Okwuosah, Brandon Shepherd and Brian Stalter

•Key returnees: Wesley Bluvstein, Troy Burse, Jesse Hofmann and Chris Laitple

NORTH

•Record: 3-15 overall, 2-8 (fifth) in OCC-Cardinal

•Seniors lost: None

•Key returnees: Sam Kennedy, Alex Kirkpatrick, Brad Mason and Ben Taylor