Sage Hill High's Marguerite Danner, second from right, is comforted by teammate Sophia Gordon, third from right, after the Lightning lost to St. Margaret's in a CIF Southern Section Division 3-A finals match at Cypress College on Saturday. (KEVIN CHANG, Daily Pilot / November 18, 2012)

Danner was on fire late, finishing with 23 kills, 10 digs and three blocks.

The team served strong as well, Maddy Abbott dropping two aces and Halland Mckenna and Claudia Noto each had one ace during the impressive beginning to the third set. That was the kind of performance the Lightning needed in the first couple of sets.

The elevated level of play by Sage Hill came late. And it continued early into the fourth set, with the Lightning jumping out to a 4-0 lead.

But three consecutive net violations by the Lightning cooled off the run. They just started another one, a longer one, reeling off five straight points, with Abbott, who collected 56 assists, setting the tempo.

Then everyone on the court seemed to be contributing for the Lightning, from Danner, Abbott, Whitford and Singarella blasting shots, to Brenna Van Hoogenstyn, Danner and Whitford blocking shots. Sage Hill was forcing a decisive fifth set.

When it came to the final set, the Lightning took a 1-0 lead on one of Mckenna's 10 kills. That was the last time they were ahead, though, as the Tartans went on to claim their second section crown in three years.

"I got to hand it to St. Margaret's. [The Tartans] got the momentum back," Thomassen said. "We couldn't quite get the early momentum in the [fifth set] that helped us in the comeback. I think if we play them again tomorrow, it might go a different way.

"It didn't end the way we wanted, but I'm so proud of this team."

david.carrillo@latimes.com

Twitter: @DCPenaloza