April Ross fell just short of claiming her second world championship when she and partner Lauren Fendrick fell 2-1 (21-11, 13-21, 9-15) to reigning Olympic champions Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst of Germany in the finals of the 2017 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships on Saturday in Vienna, Austria.
Ross, a two-time Olympic medalist, and Fendrick won the opening set, but the Germans clawed their way back to win the final two sets and the gold medal, with the Americans taking the silver.
The U.S. pair, both 35, trailed almost continuously in the second and third sets as the 31-year-old Ludwig and 26-year-old Walkenhorst outscored Fendrick and Ross 35-19 on attacks in the match.
Ludwig and Walkenhorst achieved historic firsts as both the first German and first European women’s team to win the FIVB World Championships, which is second in prestige only to the Olympic Games.
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Ross and Fendrick formed a new team this season after both players split from their partners after the Olympic Games Rio 2016. Ross teamed with Kerri Walsh Jennings in Rio for the Olympic bronze medal. Ross also won a silver medal in the 2012 Games with then-partner Jen Kessy, with whom she captured the world title in 2009. Fendrick teamed with Brooke Sweat, tying for 19th place.
U.S. women have won the world beach volleyball title four times. Ross and Fendrick are the first Americans to play in the final since Misty May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings also took silver in 2011. Fendrick earned her first world medal, Ross her second.
Ross and Fendrick advanced to the final after wins in the quarterfinals and semifinals on Friday against a pair of Canadian teams. They defeated Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson, 2-0 (21-16, 21-10), in the quarterfinals, and Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes 2-1 (19-21 21-16, 15-11) in the semifinals.
Gary R. Blockus is a journalist from Allentown, Pennsylvania who has covered multiple Olympic Games. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.