AURORA — As the top seed at the CHSAA boys volleyball state championship tournament, one might incorrectly assume the Discovery Canyon has faced only a little adversity en route to a 23-1 record in the regular season.

But compared to a 2022 campaign where the Thunder didn’t drop a set all season as they stormed to a state title, this year’s team is more prepared to handle some turbulence.

Despite at an extremely solid upset effort from No. 4 Legacy on Friday at Overland High School, the championship defense is still in excellent shape after the Thunder secured a 25-21, 23-25, 26-24, 27-25 victory.

“We’ve had to fight more this year than we had to last year,” Discovery Canyon coach Wayne Wetherby said. “So, when they do get against the ropes, they know how to dig deep and try to finish the match.”

Neither team led the see-sawing first set by more than two points until the top seed opened 16-13 lead and carried that to an early advantage.

The second set started heavily in favor of the underdogs, with Legend roaring to a double-digit lead, up 15-5. From there, Discovery Canyon surged back, aided by its strong play at the net, eventually tying it 20-20. Legend was able to right the ship, however, and secured the second set victory. The Titans kept up the blistering pace in the third set, opening a five-point lead that they carried past the midway point of the frame. This time, however, the Thunder were able to turn the tide and pull out a narrow victory. The tournament’s top seed, which has lost only once this season, put away the match with another pressure-packed victory in the fourth set.

Brady Dastrup led Discovery Canyon with 15 kills, while Ty Heater added 11 and Jason Hamel chipped in 10 on a .625 hitting percentage. Tyler Sack had 31 assists, while Logan Spencer and Anderson Phillips each had nine digs.

On the other side of the championship bracket, No. 7 Eaglecrest’s Cinderella run continued with a heart-pounding a 25-22, 25-22, 23-25, 20-25, 15-12 victory over No. 3 Valor Christian. The Raptors secured victory in the first two sets before slipping the next two, but Eaglecrest coach Chad Bond said he was thrilled with his team’s never-say-die grit.

“There’s no give-up in these guys,” he said. “There were so many reasons we could’ve given up and quit. We were up big, they came back and they were beating us. We could’ve quit right there and we didn’t. We kept fighting and fighting and fighting. We stayed together, stayed with the process and I’m so proud of these guys.”

After beating two of the three top seeds, the Raptors will look to make in a perfect 3-for-3 as they take on the top-seeded Thunder at 11 a.m. Saturday with a spot in the state championship match on the line. A bracket and full schedule of the proceedings can be found here.

In the consolation bracket, Legend bounced back from its loss earlier in the evening to defeat Cherokee Trail 24-26 27-25, 25-21, 27-25 in a late-night contest.

No. 5 Douglas County also kept their title hopes alive, bouncing back from a rough second set with a pair dominating victories to defeat No. 8 Castle View 25-15, 21-25, 25-15, 25-15. They also turned around and upset No. 3 Valor Christian later in the night, winning 25-19, 25-17, 25-21.