AURORA — When the score creeps closer, the Eaglecrest High School boys volleyball team performs better.

The No. 7 Raptors pulled off the biggest upset during the first day of the Colorado High School Activities Association boys volleyball state championship tournament, dispatching No. 2 Cherokee Trail 29-27, 21-25, 25-23, 26-24 in front of a rowdy crowd at Overland High School.

Eaglecrest had squared off with the Cougars three times throughout the regular season and had yet to win a set. But since the third loss roughly a month ago, the Raptors have gone 9-2 with what coach Chad Bond said was a surge of confidence.

“At the beginning of the year, we talked about how Eaglecrest volleyball, every year, gets better than everyone else, faster than everyone else,” the coach said. “We tell them to be confident in that system even if we didn’t start the season strong, because we have great players who just needed to figure a few things out. We set new team goals about three weeks ago and what kept bubbling up was ‘play with fire’ and ‘play with confidence.’”

And so the Raptors did at the biggest tournament of the year, starting with a back-and-forth first set. Eaglecrest led by as many as five points during the opening frame, only to see the lead slip away to a Cherokee Trail rally. With both teams hitting set point multiple times, kills from Ayden Shaw and Jackson Shaw gave the Raptors an early 1-0 lead.

After the Cougars drew even in the second set, the match remained close throughout the third frame. Finally, it was Jackson Shaw who flicked a two-handed kill into a gap at the center of Cherokee Trail’s formation to put his team up 2-1.

The Raptors once again led at the start of the fourth set, powered by libero Dennis Ancheta holding serve for five points. They pushed their advantage to 17-13 before the Cougars made up the gap and then some with a seven-point run. Cherokee stretched their lead all the way to 22-18 before Eaglecrest bounced back once again to make it 23-23. A block between Dillan Ancheta and Matthew Dye brought the Raptors to match point, but the ensuing serve went long. A kill from Ayden Shaw and a hitting error from Cherokee Trail kicked off celebrations for Eaglecrest.

Ayden Shaw finished with 27 kills while Jackson Shaw added 15 kills. Dennis Ancheta had a team-high 15 digs.

“When the match gets closer, we bring up the intensity a lot,” Dennis Ancheta said. “We know we have to make our plays to stay in the game.”

Discovery Canyon 3, Castle View 1: The top-seeded Thunder stumbled in the second set against the No. 8 Sabercats, but otherwise controlled the match to win 25-19, 24-26, 25-21, 25-17. It’s the first set Discovery Canyon has dropped after nine consecutive sweeps and only the sixth set they’ve dropped in 25 matches this season.

Legend 3, Douglas County 0: The No. 4 Titans had to battle with the scrappy No. 5 Huskies, especially in the third set, but they ultimately completed the sweep 25-23, 25-19, 29-27.

The teams traded blows in the final set before a service error and clean kill put the game away.

Valor Christian 3, Bear Creek 2: In a nightcap that didn’t end until 11:12 p.m., the No. 3 Eagles outlasted the No. 6 Bears to win 25-17, 23-25, 25-20, 19-25, 15-12.

While the match was heavily contested for much of the night, Valor led the final set by at least two points from the time they opened a 3-1 lead to the conclusion.

The rainy weather forced a scheduling change at Overland after water leaking into the east gym resulted in all four first-round matches being played in the west gym. The consolation-bracket matches originally scheduled for 7 p.m. today were moved to 3 p.m. Friday. A full schedule can be found here.