Brittany Hochevar won’t hesitate when answering questions about the style she and new teammate Kelly Claes will be playing at the 2018 FIVB Huntington Beach Open presented by AVP this weekend.
“Long Beach State,” Hochevar says with a laugh. “We like to push the envelope a little bit on our set plays and how we run things. It’s being fearless.”
Long Beach State alum Hochevar, 36, is coming off of the best season of her 14-year career on the beach. She and partner Emily Day won three AVP events in 2017, but didn’t find any success internationally. After an offseason partner shakeup across United States women’s beach volleyball, she landed perfectly with Claes— a former Long Beach State commit who attended USC.
“Kelly has great instincts,” Hochevar says. “She has the high level repetitions in her. She knows how to win. We just put our head down and went to work on building the squad.”
In their first tournament together two weeks ago, Hochevar and Claes finished second at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Xiamen Open.
“People call it the honeymoon stage because winning is one thing,” Hochevar says. “Continuing to win is a whole different ball game.”
Hochevar and Claes split two matches at Huntington Beach in the first day of action on Thursday. RESULTS
Hochevar is making one last push to the 2020 Olympics, and qualifying starts on October. But with most of the U.S. teams working to build new partnerships, the next few months will be all about improving quickly.
“It’s a positioning, seeding and funding thing,” Hochevar said. “It’s a flat out race. But we need to be one point at a time.”
Hochevar had the unenviable task of replacing Misty May-Treanor at Long Beach State back in 1999, but quickly made a name for herself as a true freshman. She was All-Big West three times and a second-team All-American her senior season while leading the 49ers to the National Championship game. She left Long Beach State ranked in the top ten in career aces, assists, digs and block assists and is the only player under Gimmillaro to get an All-American nod at multiple positions.
“She came (to LBSU) prepared to be good,” recalls Gimmillaro. “She was a great teammate and someone we could always rely on. (Hochevar) is one of ours.”
Hochevar was an alternate for the 2004 USA Olympic indoor team, and has gone through a long list of talented beach volleyball partners on the sand that includes indoor Olympian Logan Tom, beach Olympian Holly McPeak and the incomparable Kerri Walsh Jennings, three-time beach Olympic partner and gold medalist with May-Treanor.