Randy Angel

Lane Carico makes quick jump to international competition

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Former Mira Costa High School standout Lane Carico is competing on the international level in only her second full season as a professional beach volleyball player. Photo by Mpu Dinani/Getty Images

Former Mira Costa High School standout Lane Carico is competing on the international level in only her second full season as a professional beach volleyball player. Photo by Mpu Dinani/Getty Images

When the World Series of Beach Volleyball was held in Long Beach last summer, Lane Carico walked away with a championship. A second title will be extremely more difficult this year.

Competing in the inaugural WSOBV in 2013, Carico was a member of Team America – a group of women led by beach volleyball legend and fellow Manhattan Beach native Holly McPeak – that won the championship in the 6-man tournament.

The stakes are much higher for Carico this week as she competes in the FIVB Grand Slam in only her second full season as a professional beach volleyball player.

The 24-year-old Carico and partner Brittany Hochevar, of Hermosa Beach, would like nothing more than to have an impressive performance in front of friends and family on a world-wide stage in the featured tournament of the WSOBV that runs through Sunday.

“I’m excited to have the FIBV return to Long Beach,” Carico said. “It was so much to be a part of last year. I felt so much positive energy and expect it to be even more so this year. What makes the WSOBV such a unique event is that people can not only watch, but also play.”

When Manhattan Beach resident and former AVP owner Leonard Armato created the WSOBV last year, it marked the first time an FIVB tournament was held on American soil since 2003. But Armato wanted more than a single tournament where fans of the sport could watch the top players in the world, so he incorporated co-ed and single gender 4’s and 6’s, youth, and collegiate tournaments throughout the week.

“The WSOBV is great for the U.S.,” Carico said. “We have some of the best players in the world and the WSOBV can showcase that talent throughout the world. The increase in prize money (doubled from last year) makes it one of the top FIVB events.”

Carico is a rising star on the professional beach volleyball circuit. In her first full season, she was named “Newcomer of the Year” by the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) in 2013. She also won three gold, two silver and one bronze on the 2013 NORCECA Circuit

“Winning the AVP award was awesome,” Carico said. “I had no clue how I would do last season so I had no expectations. To be recognized for my potential means a lot and I was lucky to have a good partner with Heather Hughes.”

Carico said she is appreciative of the knowledge she is gaining from partner Hochevar, a pro beach veteran who also made a successful transition from the indoor game to the beach.

Carico was a two-time AVCA All-American for the University of Miami indoor program, being named 2011 ACC Player of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year. She finished her four years as the Hurricane’s all-time leader in kills (1,698) and points (1,915.5) and was the first player at Miami to register 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs.

Hochevar, 33, was an AVCA All-American setter at Long Beach State where she replaced future Olympic gold medalist Misty May.

On the sand, Hochevar has partnered with beach volleyball Olympians Holly McPeak and Kerri Walsh Jennings. In a round about way, Walsh Jennings was instrumental in creating the partnership of Carico and Hochevar when she teamed with April Ross after longtime partner Misty May Treanor announced her retirement.

“The teams at the top were changing and it had a trickle down effect,” Carico explained. “Brittany and I were looking for partners, getting a feel of what was out there. We hit it off and decided to give it a try. We started of strong this year but then I had an injury that took us out of four FIVB events. Brittany has stuck with me and I’m healthy now so we are really just beginning our quest to qualify for the 2016 Olympics.”

The team has recorded two third-place finishes in AVP tournaments this season and in FIVB events, has finished 17th in Fuzhou, China and 25th in Moscow, Russia. But Carico has set her goals high and expects a dramatic improvement this season.

“I want to make a huge improvement in my international play,” Carico said. “My goal is to finish the year as one of the main draw teams which would be the top three U.S. teams.”

Only two years out of college, Carico already serves as a role model for many young females. After her indoor volleyball career at Miami – where she earned a degree in Exercise Physiology – Carico played one season of sand volleyball at Georgia State University in 2012 reaching the AVCA National Championship semifinals with Katie Madewell and was named an AVCA All-American.

“After my career at Miami was over, I had to decide whether I wanted to play indoor volleyball overseas or make the switch to sand volleyball,” Carico said. “I grew up loving beach volleyball so I went with my heart. There weren’t that many colleges with sand volleyball teams but Georgia State had one with coaches I liked and a graduate program I was interested in.”

Carico’s impact on the Georgia State sand volleyball program lives on. Panthers head coach Beth Van Fleet, who spent eight seasons playing with the AVP while earning five top-10 finishes, is not surprised at Carico’s rapid success.

“Even though Lane played only one season for us, in certain situations current players will ask each other ‘What would Lane do?,’ Van Fleet said recently while scouting talent at the AAU Jr. National Championships in Hermosa Beach. “If anyone can make such a quick the jump into the pros, it’s Lane.”

Carico also serves on the coaching staff of Elite Beach Volleyball, a program run by Olympians Eric Fonoimoana, Barbra Fontana and McPeak that train young girls who want to perform at collegiate and Olympic levels.

Carico knows what it takes to be a winner. She was team captain at Mira Costa High School which went 37-0 her senior season and 37-1 when she was a junior. The Mustangs won the state championship the three years she played on the varsity squad.

She has participated in several USAV High Performance programs, including the Beach Elite Development team and the U26 team and competed in the Under-19 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Poland and the 2013 World University Games

Carico’s passion for beach volleyball runs as deep as the sands on South Bay beaches and began at an early age thanks to her parents Chris and Keli. Lane and her siblings – older sister Taylor and younger brother Weston – took advantage of a court in their front yard.

“My dad grew up in Manhattan Beach and played some indoor volleyball in college but really loved beach volleyball,” Carico said. “My mom took up the sport after meeting my dad. I think the court in the yard wasn’t as much for us to practice on, but to keep us from hitting the ball around in the house.”

For result of the FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam, log onto wsobv.com.