AURORA — It took nine sets against the same team across the span of a few hours, but the title defense for the Discovery Canyon High School boys volleyball team is complete.

Only a few hours after the top-seeded Thunder sent No. 7 Eaglecrest—the tournament’s ultimate Cinderella team—into the consolation bracket with a blood-pressure-raising 23-25, 25-14, 25-22, 20-25, 15-11 victory, they had to do it again with a state championship on the line.

The Raptors defeated No. 4 Legend to reach the state title match, but ultimately ran out of gas as Discovery Canyon’s play at the net led to a 25-21, 16-25, 25-17, 25-18 victory during the final day at Overland High School.

It was the blocking, in particular, that swung the championship match in favor of Discovery Canyon.

“If we can keep the ball from even coming on our side of the net, that’s the best for us,” Thunder coach Wayne Wetherby said. “I was really pleased with how we blocked throughout the weekend and especially today. I think this morning we had 13 blocks and I don’t know exactly how many we had here, but it was a lot.”

It was another 11, to be exact, with the Thunder trying to slow down one of the tournament’s premier hitters in Ayden Shaw. The results were sometimes mixed, especially in the second set, but Wetherby said he was thrilled with how his team handled an opponent on an incredible run that saw them beat the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 seeds.

“We knew that they’re a good team and that they’re scrappy,” the coach said. “We knew that with Ayden, that he’s a good player. We knew we would have to play our game. Especially in the second set, I told the guys, ‘we’re playing their game right now and they’re better at it than we are.’ Once we got back to being ourselves, things started going our way again.”

The Discovery Canyon middle blockers took center stage during the opening set, dictating the pace and proceedings at the net to give the Thunder an early lead. Eaglecrest jumped to an early lead in the second set that eventually allowed them to even the contest, helped along by an ace from Yupeng Lee.

It was the Thunder who opened a big lead in the third set, stretching to an eight-point advantage early in the frame. Still, Ayden Shaw repeatedly rained kills from near the left post to bring the Raptors back and cut the lead to 13-11. From there, Discovery Canyon took advantage of a series of errors to make a four-point run, the momentum of which they carried to victory in the third set.

By the fourth set, the Eaglecrest team that had played more sets than any other team in the tournament was finally starting to slow down

After playing five sets against the eventual champions in the morning, the Raptors turned around less than one hour later and defeated No. 4 Legend 25-22, 25-21, 23-25, 25-23. It adds to the length list of victims during Eaglecrest’s underdog run, which also includes victories over No. 2 Cherokee Trail and No. 3 Valor Christian during the tournament.

Even though they didn’t emerge with a title, Eaglecrest coach Chad Bond said he never doubted his team’s determination.

“Today, they never quit,” Bond said. “They got tired; it’s a long day. But they never quit. At no point did we hang heads and at no point did we think we were going to lose. Even at 17-24 (in the fourth set) we were battling for everything we could.”