p1440: Sasha Karelov, Lauren DeTurk

p1440 Developmental Program: Sasha Karelov, Lauren DeTurk

The name just kept coming up – Sasha! Sasha!

Lauren DeTurk, at the time, had no idea “who this chick is that everyone keeps telling me to play with,” she said, laughing in Huntington Beach. She said this as she was standing next to that very same Sasha, a 24-year-old from Raleigh, North Carolina whose full name is Sasha Karelov. And she said this on a day in which Karelov proved all those voices correct, as the two won four matches en route to a p1440 Developmental Tournament title.

“It worked out,” DeTurk said.

It has worked out quite well, perhaps better than either player could have guessed this early in the partnership. Their first tournament came on a fairly large stage, at p1440’s Huntington Beach Young Guns, an invitational in which DeTurk and Karelov would finish fifth, career bests for both.

“It was timing, really, because she stopped playing with someone and then I stopped playing with someone and it’s all about timing and we really hit it off from day one,” Karelov said.

Long before the two partnered up, before DeTurk met this mysterious Sasha everyone kept mentioning to her, Karelov “saw Lauren play and she was kicking butt,” she recalled. “So I knew I wanted to play with her in a tournament.”

So far, so good, though to expect any less from either would be a misplaced expectation. Both have had winning pedigrees throughout their career in the sport. In four seasons at Duke, Karelov played libero, earning the 2016 ACC Defensive Player of the Year, leaving third in school history in career digs.

Funnily enough, too, it was her knack for defense – and only defense – that made the beach so appealing: After four years of playing exclusively back row, she couldn’t wait to hit a ball. And when Long Beach State gave her the opportunity to do just that as a graduate transfer on the beach team, who was she to turn it down?

“I loved being able to hit the ball,” she said, and she was quite good at it. In a single season with The Beach, she set a school record with 29 wins, bouncing around with three different partners. It’s no wonder, then, that her success with DeTurk, yet another new partner, has come so easy.

“I’m kind of a volleynerd and Lauren is too,” Karelov said. “She inspires me every day. I want to be like her. We’re similar. We see the game like coaches when we play.”

After a successful collegiate indoor career at Northeastern, where she became just the sixth player in school history to reach 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs, and a few seasons overseas, DeTurk coached full-time for seven years. But soon her playing career demanded a choice: play full-time, or coach full-time.

“I decided I needed to move to California,” she said. It wouldn’t be until after the 2018 season concluded that she would partner up with Karelov, which could, at the end of the day, be a serendipitous delay. Now the two have an entire off-season’s worth of training under their belt, and a Developmental Tournament title to their name early in the year.

“Long term we want to qualify for the AVP and play in p1440 tournaments,” Karelov said. “We just want to take it day by day. We know we have a lot of potential but we just have to keep working on the fundamentals.”

Other Developmental Program teams:

Kacey Losik and Logan Webber: When simply making main draw isn’t enough

Heather Friesen and Kristen Petrasic: No bad days

Chris Austin and Kris Johnson: The indoor powers with limitless upside

Lacey Fuller, Jessica McGuire: The Penn State libero meets the UCLA rower

Jay Panther, Cody Caldwell: The near-Olympic skier and the National Champ

Chloe Crappell, Carissa Whalen: Discovering community through beach volleyball

Travis Mewhirter, Myles Muagututia: The smoothest athlete on the beach

Madison Willis, McKenna Thibodeau: Let your personality shine

Victoria Dennis, Nora Darrhar: A partnership grounded in gratitude

John Schwengel, Aidan Brown: The youngsters looking to make the leap

Tomas Salava, Martin Mach: Giving this beach thing a shot