American A-Team will play Aussies for beach volleyball gold

Aug 4, 2021, 8:03 AM | Updated: 9:35 pm

TOKYO (AP) — When Stanford indoor volleyball star Alix Klineman moved over to the beach to team up with two-time Olympic medalist April Ross, she knew she was signing up for a lot of extra work.

And a lot of extra pressure.

“There’s been a big feeling of not wanting to let her down, because she took a huge risk on me,” Klineman said Thursday after the American “A-Team” beat Switzerland 21-12, 21-11 to advance to the beach volleyball gold medal match. “The fact that everything is falling into place just feels so magical.”

After winning a silver medal in London and bronze in Rio de Janeiro, Ross was hoping to upgrade to the top step of the podium in Tokyo. Her plan involved a 6-foot-5 (1.94 meters), four-time indoor volleyball All-American who had played in just a handful of domestic AVP tour events.

The decision would mean extra work for Ross, too.

Not just the usual effort to connect as teammates. Not just helping Klineman figure out the overlapping but still different skills to succeed on the beach. Picking a teammate with zero international points meant Ross, who also has a world championship gold and two silvers on her resume, would essentially be a rookie herself and forced to play her way into many tournaments on the FIVB tour.

“I was committed. This was going to be my partner. However we started, that was just going to be how we started; we’re going to work through it,” Ross said. “But we did win our first international tournament and I was just kind of like, ‘Well, duh.'”

They won five more tournaments on the tour to finish tied for first in the Olympic qualification points race. In Tokyo they have lost just one set in six matches.

And now, if they win their next match, they will be Olympic champions.

“Like, OK. We made the right choice,” Klineman said. “She believed in me. So that’s been a huge motivating factor — just to work my hardest every day and to not make her regret her decision.”

The victory assures the United States of a beach volleyball medal for the seventh straight Summer Games — every single one since the sport was added to the program in Atlanta in 1996. With four Brazilian teams — two men’s, two women’s — failing to reach the semifinals, the U.S. is the only country that can make that claim.

The Americans never trailed in the first set against Joana Heidrich and Anouk Verge-Depre of Switzerland. Ross and Klineman lost the first point of the second before rolling off three in a row to take a lead they never relinquished.

They will face Australia in the gold medal match on Friday. Mariafe Artacho and Taliqua Clancy beat Latvia 23-21, 21-13 on Thursday to clinch their country’s first Olympic medal since Natalie Cook and Kerri Pottharst won gold on Bondi Beach in 2000.

Clancy said she remembered watching fellow indigenous Australian Cathy Freeman win gold in the 400 meters in the Sydney Games.

“As an 8-year-old, that was me,” Clancy said. “And so, when we get to have these opportunities, we hope that we just inspire the future to become Olympic athletes. You know, like this is where my dream started, by watching them.”

Latvia’s Tina Graudina and Anastasija Kravcenoka will play for the bronze against Switzerland.


More AP Olympics: and

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Kansas City Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach speaks after the NFL AFC Championship playoff footba...
Associated Press

Super Bowl-bound Chiefs are built around Patrick Mahomes

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs are built around their half-billion dollar All-Pro quarterback, and for the past five years, Super Bowl-bound Patrick Mahomes has made everyone else around him all the more valuable. He’s taken marginal wide receivers and turned them into stars. Mediocre offensive linemen became stalwarts. Finishing the second […]
2 days ago
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks before the NHL All-Star hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023, i...
Associated Press

Gary Bettman defends NHL handling of Pride night situations

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman at his state of the game news conference Saturday at All-Star Weekend defended the way the league and two teams handled situations that arose regarding Pride night celebrations. Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov did not take part in warmups Jan. 18 because he refused to wear a […]
2 days ago
Pacific Division's Elias Pettersson, of the Vancouver Canucks (40) tries to get a shot off on Centr...
Associated Press

Central makes final at NHL All-Star Game, tops Pacific 6-4

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Arizona’s Clayton Keller had two goals and an assist, Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon scored twice and the Central Division moved into the title matchup with a 6-4 win over the Pacific Division to start the All-Star Game on Saturday. St. Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko had a goal and three assists for the Central. […]
2 days ago
FILE - Texas sports editor, Denne Freeman listens to University of Texas Safety Stanley Richard dur...
Associated Press

Former AP sports writer Denne H. Freeman dies at 86

DALLAS (AP) — Retired longtime Associated Press sports writer Denne H. Freeman, whose 32 years with the AP included covering all five Super Bowl championships won by the Dallas Cowboys and many golf majors, has died after a series of health issues. He was 86. Freeman’s family said he died Friday night at a Plano […]
2 days ago
FILE - Allegiant Stadium is shown during the second half of the Pro Bowl NFL football game between ...
Associated Press

NFL infuses Pro Bowl with points system, flag football

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The NFL finally stopped pretending its all-star game was an actual game, and is breathing life into the exhibition with Sunday’s Pro Bowl Games. There will be no tackle football played for the first time — not that there was much tackling in recent years, more like two-hand touch. Flag football […]
2 days ago
Al Ahly players celebrate after Al Ahly's Mohamed Afsha scored his side's opening goal during the F...
Associated Press

Al Ahly’s late goal ends Seattle debut 1-0 in Club World Cup

TANGIER, Morocco (AP) — Mohamed Afsha scored on a deflected shot in the 88th minute and sent Al Ahly into the Club World Cup semifinals by beating the Seattle Sounders 1-0 on Saturday. Afsha scored after coming on as a substitute in the 63rd. He lifted Al Ahly into the semifinals for the third straight […]
2 days ago
American A-Team will play Aussies for beach volleyball gold