Almost 10 years to the day after winning her first and only FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship title, two-time Olympic medalist April Ross will get the chance to do it again.
Ross and Alix Klineman, who’s making her world championships debut this year, played their way into Saturday’s gold-medal match with a semifinal victory over Australia’s Mariafe Artacho Del Solar and Taliqua Clancy on Friday in Hamburg, Germany.
Artacho Del Solar and Clancy both competed at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 and were ranked No. 2 in the world coming into the tournament, but Ross and Klineman controlled play from the outset en route to a 21-15, 21-18 victory. They will play the winner of the other semifinal between Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes and Switzerland’s Nina Betschart and Tanja Hüberli.
The American duo, who started playing together in 2018, are ranked fifth in the world and third in the Olympic rankings. Ross previously won a world title on July 4, 2009, with then-partner Jen Kessy in Stavanger, Norway. That marked the last time a U.S. team has won a world title at the biennial event.
Kessy now coaches Klineman and Ross, who also won silver at the world championships with Lauren Fendrick in 2017, in addition to 2012 Olympic silver (with Kessy) and 2016 bronze (with Kerri Walsh Jennings).
Ross and Klineman defeated fellow Americans Summer Ross and Sara Hughes in the quarterfinals 21-18, 21-14 earlier on Friday to become the last women’s duo remaining from the U.S.
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All four men’s teams that started the tournament advanced to the round of 16, and two are moving on to the quarterfinals.
Three-time Olympian Phil Dalhausser and 2016 Olympic partner Nick Lucena, who had to win a lucky loser match to get the elimination rounds, registered a straight-sets win over Russia’s Nikita Liamin and Taras Myskiv, winning 21-15, 21-17. The two finished fifth at the world championships in 2017.
Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb also advanced with a win over Russian duo Ilya Leshukov and Konstantin Semenov, 21-18, 21-18.
Billy Allen and Stafford Slick saw their run end at the hands of Italian duo Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo in the quarterfinals, but not before the No. 29 team defeated the powerhouse Brazilian duo of Evandro Oliveira and Bruno Oscar Schmidt 21-19, 21-18. Playing with different partners, Oscar Schmidt was the 2015 world champ and 2016 Olympic gold medalist, while Oliveira was the defending world champ.
Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb also lost 21-13, 21-18 to a team from Russia, Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Oleg Stoyanovskiy, to finish ninth.
Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.