By Blythe Lawrence | Oct. 14, 2018, 10:42 a.m. (ET)

April Ross spikes the ball in the championship game of the FIVB World Tour 4-star tournament on Oct. 14 2018, in Yangzhou, China.

 

En route to their victory at the FIVB World Tour 4-Star tournament in Yangzhou, China, April Ross and Alix Klineman found themselves going against a familiar face on the other side of the net on Friday.

Veteran Ross, who won an Olympic silver medal in 2012 with Jennifer Kessy and bronze in 2016 with Kerri Walsh Jennings, halted the advance of three-time Olympic gold medalist Walsh Jennings and partner Kelly Claes in the second round of the main draw.

It was a key matchup for the duo, who paired up last November despite Klineman’s lack of international beach experience. And with 2020 Olympic qualifying points on the line, Klineman and Ross remained steady against Walsh Jennings and Claes for a 2-1 tiebreak win (19-21, 21-16, 15-11).

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They moved on to win 2-0 (22-20, 21-11) against Latvia’s Anastasija Kravcenoka and USC freshman Tina Graudina and eliminate Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes from the championship match in the semis, also 2-1 (21-19, 25-27, 15-11).

That left Brazil’s Ana Patricia Silva Ramos and Rebecca Cavalcanti Barbosa Silva in the final. The momentum at their backs, the Americans capitalized to record an easy 2-0 win (21-19, 21-16) to take top honors in the tournament. They had previously won four AVP tournaments together this year.

In a two-medal day for Team USA, Sara Hughes and Summer Ross earned bronze after pouring it on during the third set to defeat Pavan and Humana-Paredes 2-1 (16-21, 23-21, 15-5). They previously won against Russia’s Evgenia Ukolova and Ekaterina Birlova, Italy’s Marta Menegatti and Viktoria Orsi Toth and Germany’s Kim Behrens and Sandra Ittlinger. Their only loss came at the hands of the Brazilians, who beat them 2-0 (21-16 21-18) to earn the right to face Ross and Klineman in the final. 

Ross and Klineman, for their part, opened their tournament with win against Japan’s Miki Ishii and Megumi Murakami.

The next FIVB World 4-Star Tournament begins in Las Vegas this week, and it will also award Olympic rankings points.

Blythe Lawrence is a journalist based in Seattle. She has covered two Olympic Games and is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.