|Brittany Hochevar, left, celebrates with Lane Carico|
In a beach volleyball landscape where teams rely on a big blocker and a shorter defender, the 6-foot Hochevar (Fowler, Colo.) and 5-10 Carico (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) are an anomaly.
But in the first two tournaments of the season, the pair has made it work. The team has won USA Volleyball playoff tournaments for both the NORCECA Continental Tour and the first FIVB Grand Slam of the season in Shanghai, China (April 29-May 4). Hochevar and Carico are also registered to compete in the FIVB Fuzhou Open in China (April 22-27).
“We both were full-time defenders last year so now we’re in a role where we’re split-blocking,” Hochevar said. “But we’re able to run a fun, fast offense and I really think that our styles of play complement each other super well.”
Hochevar said their pairing was based on more than just skill and experience.
“Our getting together was more a decision based on heart than on something technical,” Hochevar said. “We’re going way outside the box. We actually blew up the box. The heartbeat is the same and I know that’s where it matters most.”
Hochevar, 32, who played indoors at Long Beach State where she took over at setter for Misty May-Treanor, is the veteran. She played her first AVP tournament in 2004 and made her first FIVB appearance in 2009. Carico, 23, played four years of indoor volleyball at the University of Miami before playing a year of sand volleyball in 2012 at Georgia State. She made her AVP debut in 2006 and played her first FIVB tournament in 2013.
Last season, Hochevar played primarily with Lauren Fendrick while Carico played with Heather Hughes. Over the winter, Fendrick partnered with Brooke Sweat. When Hochevar found herself without a partner, she contacted Carico.
“I played against Lane last year more than any other team on the AVP tour,” Hochevar said. “She got tougher and tougher and tougher to beat. Her progress was happening so fast that I felt she would complement my game the best.”
Carico, 23, has been enjoying the challenge of playing a new style of beach volleyball with someone who is as passionate about it as she is.
“We both had the choice to play with a blocker and be a full-time defender or do the split-blocking thing,” Carico said. “I’m not afraid of a challenge. I’m such a believer in two people who have such a heart in it and really want it; they can do it. She has the most heart of anyone I’ve ever seen.”