ATLANTA- Former University of Miami (Fla.) All-American attacker Lane Carico leads a talented trio of signees who inked National Letters of Intent this week to join the inaugural Georgia State sand volleyball team.
A native of Manhattan Beach, Calif., Carico is joined by fellow signees Molly Smestad of Texas (Roanoke, Texas/University of Arkansas at Monticello) and Karlee Kavanaugh of Alaska (Chugiak, Alaska/Chugiak High School).
Carico finished her standout court career this past fall for the Hurricanes, being named both the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year and the league's Scholar-Athlete of the Year. She was also twice named an AVCA All-American and posted over four points per set in leading Miami to the second round of the NCAA tournament and a 26-5 record in 2011. She was one of 10 national finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award.
On the sand, Carico previously competed with the USA Youth National team, as an amateur in AVP Beach qualifying events and in international competition in Europe. She has one season of eligibility on the sand.
Smestad comes to GSU after two seasons on the court at UAM and a strong sand volleyball background. She placed fifth in back-to-back years at the Junior Beach Nationals, 18U Division, and was ranked as high as third in the highly competitive North Texas Region (Dallas-Fort Worth area).
Smestad previously earned academic all-district recognition at Northwest High (Justin, Texas) and will have three seasons of eligibility on the sand for GSU.
Kavanaugh comes the greatest distance to GSU, hailing from outside Anchorage, Alaska. She has played in several sand events in California and Florida, being selected to participate in the 2011 USAV HP Beach Championships. She took second place in the Alaska State Beach Volleyball Open Championships and was chosen for the beach volleyball bilateral exchange in Russia.
Kavanaugh was also a first-team all-state selection with her court team at Chugiak High, guiding the squad to third and fourth place finishes in the state tournament. She has four years of eligibility with the GSU sand program.
Under head coach Tami Audia and former AVP Beach pro and assistant coach Beth Van Fleet, the Panthers will begin play in the NCAA emerging sport in spring 2013. GSU now has eight student-athletes signed so far for the inaugural squad.
Here are the coaching staff's comments on the latest signees and their potential impact on the program:
"Lane will be the most decorated volleyball player to ever come through the Georgia State ranks (court or sand). A talented court player, Lane will also shine in the sand. She has international experience in addition to her experience on the national stage that will help her right away against strong opponents. With her volleyball IQ and tremendous skill, Lane will be a great teacher and mentor to our younger players."
"Molly will bring years of sand experience, as well as leadership and maturity to our young team. Her passion for this sport is clear each time she steps on the court. A patient and natural athlete, her sand skill set perfectly suits the GSU system."
"Karlee is a solid player who gets better every time she steps on the sand. She is a dedicated player who travels far distances for training. With good size and a keen sense of the game, Karlee will be a fun contributor to watch all four years of her career."
Each student-athlete will enroll at GSU this fall.