Upper Arlington High School girls volleyball coach Matt Wion couldn't help but smile after the Division I district tournament draw Oct. 9.

Upper Arlington High School girls volleyball coach Matt Wion couldn't help but smile after the Division I district tournament draw Oct. 9.

Four days before the Golden Bears completed their second consecutive 12-2 record in the OCC-Central Division, they earned the ninth seed in the tournament and chose to play a first-round match.

Minutes later, Watterson, the team that ended the Bears' season the past two years, took a bye and selected a second-round spot in which it would play the winner of UA's opening match against Dublin Jerome.

On Oct. 22 at Granville, the Eagles showed why they were so confident, as UA ran into the same old wall, losing 25-19, 25-20, 25-15.

Last year, Watterson defeated the Bears 25-19, 25-15, 25-17 in a district semifinal.

"It's tough to process that it happened again," Wion said. "It's just tremendously disappointing."

UA finished 13-6 overall and second in the OCC-Central to Dublin Coffman for the second year in a row. The Shamrocks (14-0) were the only team to defeat the Bears in league play.

Hilliard Davidson finished third in the league at 8-6, followed by Central Crossing (7-7), Worthington Kilbourne (7-7), Thomas Worthington (6-8), Hilliard Darby (2-12) and Westland (0-14).

"We're pretty happy about that finish in the kind of league we're in," Wion said. "Hopefully, we can work our way up and be right there again next year and hopefully break through and win the OCC championship. That's our first goal every year."

The Bears will lose two seniors in setter Kate Quinn and Kent State-bound middle blocker Kelly Hutchison. Expected to return are junior defensive specialists Samantha Farwick and Sydney Farwick, sophomore outside hitters Bailey Gowins, Alize Adams-Pugh and Melanie McMillan, sophomore setter/defensive specialist Maria Grund, sophomore middle blocker Ashley Murray and freshman outside hitter Brigid McKee.

Junior outside hitter Laura Hillebrand is a German exchange student.

"You look at four sophomores, three juniors and a freshman getting a lot of playing time and playing important roles," Wion said. "We should have a great squad back next year. There are some girls on the freshman team as well this year that impressed me and could have a shot (at varsity). There's a lot of youth in our program, and that's good."

Hutchison credited the system put in place by Wion, who coached the eighth-grade team at Hastings Middle School before taking the varsity job in 2010.

"Our whole motto for this year was 'discipline and consistency,'" Hutchison said. "Whether we were practicing, lifting or conditioning, we worked all summer and got more dedicated. It helped prepare us and made us really competitive.

"I'm impressed. Coach might argue and say it's all about the postseason, but it's about building a strong program and building relationships you'll have for the rest of your life."