Capping off what will certainly be a July to remember for two-time Olympian April Ross and partner Alix Klineman, the duo won the silver medal at the FIVB World Tour stop in Tokyo on Sunday.
The four-star event also served as an official test event for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
It was the third straight World Tour final for Ross and Klineman, who earlier this month won the silver medal at the world championships and gold at the Gstaad Major FIVB World Tour five-star event. The pair also won the four-star event in Itapema, Brazil, in May.
Sunday’s final saw them squaring off against Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda “Duda” Lisboa of Brazil, the duo that knocked Americans Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat out of medal contention in the quarterfinals. The match lasted just 42 minutes, with Agatha and Duda prevailing 2-0 (21-19, 21-18), but Ross and Klineman picked up $16,000 and 720 Tokyo qualifying points for earning silver.
For the athletes, part of having the competition as a test event meant getting a taste of the heat and humidity that might await them a year from now as they come together for Olympic beach volleyball competition beginning July 24 and ending August 9. Organizers used the same sand that will be used next year at Shiokaze Park on the edge of Tokyo Bay and followed the Olympic format.
Ross and Klineman defeated Fan Wang and Xinyi Xia of China in three sets, world champions Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan of Canada in two sets, and Germany’s Julia Sude and Karla Borger in two sets to reach the final.