AURORA • When the final volley hit the ground Saturday and Discovery Canyon was back-to-back state champions, the team was able to exhale.

The standard the Thunder had to follow couldn’t have been loftier. A year ago, in boys’ volleyball’s first year as a sanctioned CHSAA sport, Discovery Canyon blitzed through the season without dropping so much as a set.

This year wasn’t quite as pristine. The team lost a set. It later lost its first match.

But the result was ultimately the same, wrapped up with a 3-1 victory over Eaglecrest.

Finally, relief.

“This year was so similar, and so different at the same time,” coach Wayne Wetherby said. “For someone like Brady (Dastrup), who didn’t play much last year, there was a sense of pride in this team wanting to win its own title. They had fun and learned so much last year, but they were just as driven to get a chance.”


Dastrup, the team’s leading hitter this season, had a team-high 14 kills in the championship match – the second meeting between the Thunder and Raptors on Saturday, with first going five sets.

Eaglecrest played a total of 14 sets on Saturday. Fatigued, they still mounted a challenge against the buzzsaw from the north side of Colorado Springs. In the third set Ayden Shaw ripped three consecutive kills and the Raptors threatened to go up 2-1 in sets. Instead, Discovery Canyon took a timeout and retook the momentum as players like senior Ty Heater and juniors Tyler Sack and Anderson Phillips contributed in securing the title.

“The competition in our practices just gets us ready for the matches and it pushes us without having to play against another team,” junior libero Anderson Phillips said. “From the first to the second match (against them), I think we really tried to read and react, rather than think ahead.”

While the Raptors fended off Legend in the consolation final, the Thunder watched from above with snacks, laughs and their feet up.

The pregame ritual of playing tag came about and the Thunder were spry as ever, chasing one another around their side of the warm-up court. At the same time, Eaglecrest laid on the Overland High School gym floor and tried to soak up any relaxation that could be had in the hour break between the semifinal and the title match.

“It’s such an advantage to have that time and not have to play as many matches, but it’s also one we earned,” Wetherby said. “When you play well and don’t lose in the tournament, you just set yourself up for success and you set yourself up to not have to deal with things like being tired, just volleyball.”

Wetherby preached to his team all year that the destination was what mattered and the journey — and losses (well, loss, as in singular) — along the way were just pitstops. Each one was a learning opportunity.

Greeley Central is the first and only team to win consecutive sets against the Thunder. When dropped sets happened in the state tournament, they weren’t duplicated and it was a big reason the Thunder rode to another title.

Make mistakes, learn from them, and eventually fix them.

It’s the roadmap Wetherby has conjured up in his two years leading the program.

Other teams are catching up but the rolling Thunder don’t play on stopping. Another group at Discovery Canyon has a chance next season.