That is when CdM woke up, as the defending league champion closed things out to win 25-23, 28-26, 23-25, 25-12 and remain perfect in league. The play by the Sea Kings was not as flawless as their 4-0 record.
"I just knew that sometimes our guys … underestimate some teams if they have a certain name on their back," Conti said, "and maybe Beckman doesn't have the tradition some schools have because [its] still relatively a new school.
"But I know their coach [Darin McBain] does a super good job. I felt they outhustled us. Even though we came out on top, I felt they played with way more of a sense of purpose."
Respect is something Conti said his team must give the opposition.
The Patriots definitely earned it after challenging CdM (15-2), ranked No. 1 in the CIF Southern Section Division II coaches' poll. Seventh-ranked Beckman (16-4, 3-1 in league) is not just happy with keeping it close against the perennial league champion.
McBain wants the Patriots to be the first team to knock off CdM in league since 2005. They have the most explosive player in the league in Chris Long. The UCLA-bound senior hammered a match-high 21 kills.
Long is not that tall, at best 5-foot-10, but boy can he get up in a hurry and unleash a lethal left-handed shot.
"We just haven't seen a guy like that in a couple of weeks," Conti said. "We don't have a lefty in our gym during practice that we can get a look like that."
With Long, the Patriots are no longer a long shot to topple CdM in league.
Sure, they dropped to second place, behind the Sea Kings, but the two teams meet again in the league finale at CdM on May 5. McBain reminded his team of the match, with one condition.
"That match at the end of the year is going to mean nothing if we don't take care of Irvine twice, and we don't get through these other guys in league," McBain said to his players. "We can't let down."
After losing nail biters in the first two sets, the Patriots continued to fight.