Jake Wood of the Worthington Kilbourne High School boys volleyball team was a freshman the last time the Wolves reached the Division I state tournament. The senior setter hasn't forgotten what it felt like to get there.

Jake Wood of the Worthington Kilbourne High School boys volleyball team was a freshman the last time the Wolves reached the Division I state tournament. The senior setter hasn't forgotten what it felt like to get there.

In 2008, Kilbourne made the final four before falling to Cincinnati St. Xavier in a semifinal.

"That was our last really good season," said Wood, whose team was 12-4 overall and 4-2 in the OCC-Ohio Division before playing Upper Arlington on April 26. "We have a good record right now, but we haven't proven anything yet because we haven't gotten that one big win. I think that would boost our confidence to a whole new level."

The Wolves lost to Hilliard Davidson 27-25, 28-26, 25-17 in a league match on April 5 but get another shot at the Wildcats on Thursday, April 28. Davidson was ranked eighth in the Division I state poll last week.

Kilbourne's other losses also have come against ranked teams in Hilliard Darby (25-18, 25-11, 25-12 on April 14), Cincinnati LaSalle (25-18, 25-11, 25-12 on April 16) and Mount Vernon (25-15, 23-25, 25-18, 26-24 on April 23).

In the state poll last week, LaSalle was fifth, Darby was seventh and Mount Vernon was ninth.

Kilbourne was ranked sixth in the East Region coaches poll last week behind Darby, Davidson, Mount Vernon, Gahanna and Pickerington North.

"The one thing that I keep hammering with the kids is that we're very comparable to these ranked teams," coach Dickson Lao said. "We have decent size and we're just as athletic. The difference is the level of confidence and they haven't really learned how to win."

Lao watched the Wolves make too many mistakes against Davidson.

"From my perspective, it was a match we should've won," he said. "We shot ourselves in the foot with unforced errors. We had it at game point in two games and gave them away with bad serves and other errors."

The same was true against Mount Vernon and LaSalle.

"You look at the stat sheet and we had the upper hand in kills, blocks and service aces," Lao said. "But we've got a team that is relatively young and they're still trying to learn our tradition or the legacy they've inherited and how to live up to it."

In 18 seasons under former coach Glynda Rice, who is now an assistant with the team, Kilbourne won eight regional championships and eight OCC titles.

Rice stepped down as coach prior to last season and was replaced by Lao, a longtime assistant and former player under Rice who guided Kilbourne to a 7-18 finish, marking only the third losing season in the past 19 years.

Kilbourne hopes to enter the postseason on a winning streak.

After playing host Pickerington North, Beavercreek and Stow-Munroe Falls on Saturday, April 30, the Wolves close league play with matches against Dublin Coffman (Tuesday, May 3) and Darby (May 5).

"Knocking off Darby or Davidson would be enormous for us," Wood said. "With us, I definitely think it's all mental. We have the physical attributes to be among the best teams, but I think we don't expect to win. We need to have the mindset that we're the best on the court like we have been in the past."