Coach Katy Daly thought her team was standing around rather than working for points.
Sarah Ciszek took heed to her coach’s words during that Set 3 timeout, then took charge to help Santa Margarita (Calif.) rally for a 22-25, 25-15, 15-12 win over Punahou in the championship match of the Ann Kang Invitational Volleyball Tournament on Saturday at ‘Iolani.
The Eagles, which lost to the Buffanblu in Thursday’s pool play, ended Punahou’s run of three consecutive Ann Kang titles. Santa Margarita and Punahou finished the tournament with 8-1 records.
"I stressed the no-ball-drop mentality," Daly said of the timeout when her team trailed 8-6. "We were kind of watching and letting someone else do the work."
Ciszek had three kills and a block to help Santa Margarita turn the Set 3 deficit into an 11-8 lead. Ciszek had another kill to extend the lead to 12-9. Daly described her play as the "X-factor."
"I told her she didn’t get recognized as all-tournament, but in my book she’s all-tournament," Daly said. "She was the X-factor this week."
Punahou got within 13-12 after a kill by Kiana Peroff and a kill and block by Piikea Clemens. Punahou then served out to put Santa Margarita at match point. Meghan McClure’s kill ended the match and sent her teammates running off the bench in celebration.
"Definitely tougher than Mira Costa," Punahou libero Brandee Markwith said of the California school her team beat in last year’s championship. Markwith was an all-tournament selection.
Punahou trailed early in Set 3 before scoring six straight for an 8-6 lead. Then Ciszek found her way through Punahou’s block.
"We had a breakdown in our passing and that kind of just snowballed into not digging balls we would normally dig," said Punahou coach Tanya Fuamatu-Anderson. "And Santa Margarita did a good job of putting us in tough situations."
McClure, the Eagles’ 6-foot-1 outside hitter, was named the tournament’s MVP and setter Devon Chang made the all-tournament team.
"She has hands of gold," Daly said of Chang. "She’s the voice of reason and calm with everything. She has a great outlook on the whole game. That’s a major component of being a good setter."
Santa Margarita beat ‘Iolani 25-21, 23-25, 16-14 in the semifinals, while Punahou beat Boswell (Texas) 25-16, 22-25, 15-8.
For defending state champion Punahou, the preseason tournament provided opportunities for players to get to know each other on and off the court. The team has been together for just two weeks.
"I saw a lot of moments where I was like ‘Wow, these are tough competitors, they want to win, they want to push, fight to the very end,’ " Fuamatu-Anderson said. "I definitely saw signs of brilliance. But I also saw signs of ‘OK, we got a lot of work to do."
The tournament has usually provided a preview of players who are headed to the University of Hawaii. Redondo Union (Calif.) senior Norene Iosia committed to UH prior to the tournament and got to visit the campus for the first time. Redondo Union finished fifth in the tournament.
"Right when I walked in the (Stan Sheriff Center), it was so beautiful," said Iosia, a 5-foot-10 setter who helped American Samoa win the gold medal at the Pacific Games this summer. "That was my first time actually looking at the school. I fell in love with the gym. It was so nice."