But some Californians pass better than others. Before Saturday's final, McLaughlin instructed his charges to serve at outside hitters Brent Hilliard and Mark Kerins. Hilliard and Kerins are the 49ers' best finishers; by forcing them to receive serves, McLaughlin hoped to disrupt Long Beach's offense. It worked. Kerins in particular was thrown off, committing 10 hitting errors on 37 attempts.
With USC up two games to one and ahead 13-5 in Game 4, the 49ers became extremely stingy. It took the Trojans 24 side outs to get their 14th point, which came, at last, on a handsome stuff block by Becker. His spike moments later was too hot for Long Beach blocker Bob Kutsch to handle.
As the ball arced high off Kutsch's hand and out-of-bounds, the Trojans came together in a delirious scrum. Poor Jen-Kai Liu, USC's swing-hitter, was caught underfoot and nearly trampled. After the trophies were presented—Ivie was the tournament MVP—the Trojans began to celebrate with their pep band. The notes of the USC fight song died out, replaced by the crack of high fives. Theirs was that special joy reserved for the resurrected.