He said when she greeted him at the memorial service, Moriarty even joked that, "I bet you never thought we'd become such good friends."

Remembering 'Big G'

Giovanazzi was a member of the 1976 UCLA volleyball team that won the national championship, then had a stint playing professional volleyball. He became a coach for UCLA women's team, and that squad won national titles in 1977, 1978 and 1984.

He was also a coach for the University of Michigan, the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Johns Hopkins — and the 1992 U.S. Women's Olympic Team that captured a bronze medal in Barcelona.

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He also coached the 2011 Columbia Volleyball Club Comets team — and coached his daughter, Casey Giovanazzi, a Catonsville High School graduate who now plays for the University of North Florida.

At Saturday's celebration, Caren Kimner, a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic team, shared stories about Giovanazzi's exploits at home and overseas, but turned serious when she said of her former coach, "He gave me happiness. I'm so fortunately for the past 20 years for being part of his life."

And former UCLA volleyball coach Andy Banachowski, who coached Giovanazzi as a player and later worked with him on the Bruins' coach staff, described his friend's knack for sharing photo albums with people, and also for passing along praise and lifting spirits.

He said that from the East Coast to West Coast, Giovanazzi had sent him several electronic messages over time that he had never deleted — and now cherished. One of them told his former coach to "let me know how you are ... and how much you miss me."

"Gio," Banachowski said, "I'm good. And I miss you."

Throughout the afternoon music, slides, food and drink — and volleyballs — accented a mood of reunion and celebration.

The thread of community ran through it all — from Towson to Catonsville and across cyberspace. Kathy O'Dell, Moriarty's sister, said the family had received countless messages of remembrance through Facebook, and the family's Catonsville home "has been a swinging door" of support from neighbors.

"It's hard to put into words the support from the university, the community," she said. "It's brought us great comfort."

Moriarty reiterated that sentiment in her comments. She recalled the life of family and sport that she, Greg and Casey have shared, and said when Casey came home Florida this week after the news of her father's death, Moriarty picked her up at the airport and they shared a hug.

"I said, 'Now it's just you and me against the world,' " Moriarty recalled.

But looking out on the crowd that had come to Towson to show love and support, she added, "I couldn't have been more wrong."