Pabst fits easily into the power game devised by the 49ers coach, Randy Sandefur, who stepped down as the school basketball coach four years ago to begin the intercollegiate volleyball program. He is 6'5", jumps well and moves with the reactions of a man smaller—and younger. He had worried how his young teammates would accept him, but that was no problem. They got along, although Pabst confesses, "It does seem like I have to work a little harder to stay on top of them." Says Sandefur, "When Miles is playing well he dominates the net, like Bill Russell or Wilt Chamberlain dominated basketball games."
Pabst and Dodge Parker, acknowledged as the best setter in the country, teamed up Friday night to demoralize San Diego State. After winning the first game 15-10 and taking a 13-8 lead before an enthusiastic home-court crowd, San Diego's Freaks lost the second game 15-13 and then were whipped 15-7 in the third. True, it was only part of the laborious seeding process, but San Diego's mental state had to be shaken by Long Beach's comeback, plus its own inability to get its quick short-set going because of poor passing.
"Once they get down," said Parker, "it will be harder for them to get back up." Countered San Diego's Randy Stevenson: "All this means is we play at two o'clock tomorrow instead of 12:30. It's going to be the Freaks against the Jocks, and the Freaks are going to win."
As played by teams as expert as these, volleyball is a sport of anticipation, and anticipation seethed and pulsated the next night through the crowd of 7,762—the largest ever for the finals—and hung like a veil over the court. San Diego State and Long Beach State had made it to the championship game, rolling through the afternoon semifinals like twin tidal waves. Long Beach took Army 15-5, 15-1, 15-2 in the best-of-five series. The Aztecs tamed Ball State 15-5, 15-7, 15-10.
Now the Sports Arena was a joyous scene of risqu� banners, painted bed sheets, inflammatory placards, bugles and air horns and megaphones and backless blouses and quivering navels. It was a fashion show and a picnic and, for San Diego's Freaks, a seeming disaster.
Long Beach's 49ers won the opening game 15-11 and rushed ahead in the critical second 10-3. The partisan crowd turned somber. Parker, who had the touch of a man splitting diamonds, was setting up Pabst for slashing spikes that were shredding the Aztec defense. But suddenly fatigue set in—on old man Pabst. He was forced for a while to rest on the sidelines. His weariness had prompted five straight San Diego points and a rejuvenation in the stands. Bathed in a contagious roar, the Aztecs came alive and battled to a 15-13 victory.
Now the home team was moving. As the crowd's enthusiasm mounted, San Diego whipped out a 15-8 win, and then gained the title on Mike Cote's spike that ended a 15-6 victory in the fourth game. Thousands spilled onto the floor. Volleyball, American style, had entered a new dimension.