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Sunset finishes the season with two losses at the Class 6A state tournament at Liberty

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset senior Aria De La Rosa and the Apollos made the Class 6A state tournament for the second time in three years.

The lull Sunset avoided all season long en route to another Class 6A state tournament seized the Apollos at precisely the wrong time of the year.

As the No. 2 seed entering the 6A state tourney with aims of upsetting Jesuit in the state final, the Apollos' play suffered in the quarterfinals as 6A newcomer Summit stunned Sunset in a 25-21, 25-22, 25-14 defeat at Liberty High School on Nov. 2.

"This really stinks because we wanted to win state, but it's a part of being a team," Sunset senior Aria De La Rosa said. "You have these wins and losses. We'll stay united. That's the one thing that gets us through the tough times — being a family. Our team is really strong on and off the court. We all have each other's backs no matter what. That's what drives our team bond."

There would be no state championship, sadly, not even a chance at it. In the consolation round, Sunset lost to Central Catholic in four sets to end its season with a strong 24-5 record. Unfortunately for the Apollos, two of those five losses arrived when they could least afford to go down.

"We didn't really rise to the occasion," De La Rosa said. "We got in our heads a little bit. We have a really young team and with age comes maturity. We just didn't play to our level. Our plan was to be resilient and come back ready to play. All of the preparation was done we just had to make sure our heads were in the game and play with heart. There was still a lot to play for."

But the Apollos never splintered, even when the tail end of its season didn't go as planned. De La Rosa, Sophie Summers, Paige Monaghan, Ellie Mead and other members of the senior class saw the highs of the high in this sport, knocking off Jesuit two years ago at the state tournament. Summers, De La Rosa and Monaghan won 86 games during their four-year tenure together. Each season brought a new challenge, a fresh focus and the desire to welcome new teammates into the fold.

"Everyone was really willing and open to having new relationships and bonding on and off the court," De La Rosa said. "Trust is a big thing and our team really has that. When you can trust each other, the bond comes from that."

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