Back in 2016, April Ross was the junior partner on the Olympic bronze-winning team with beach legend Kerri Walsh-Jennings. Now she’s the senior partner of an emerging medal threat for Tokyo after winning her second FIVB World Tour title this season with Alix Klineman at the Itapema Open in Brazil.
This is a four-star tournament that has been dominated by the home team, but this time the final was an all-North American affair, with Ross (36) and Klineman (29) facing a familiar foe: Canada’s Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes. The same two teams had played for the AVP Huntington Beach Open title two weeks prior with the Americans winning, and it turned out the same way in Brazil.
It was close, however. Klineman and Ross won the long first set, 25-23, then lost the second, 18-21, to force the tie-breaker. That was a 15-10 win and the third World Tour title for Klineman and Ross since joining forces in late 2017.
“It was very close again,” Ross said afterwards. “I think both teams always try to get better against each other every time we play and, in certain ways, we did get better again. It’s going to be a battle every time and we just feel great that we came out on top one more time.”
In the men’s final, Norway’s no. 1-ranked pair of Anders Mol and Christian Sorum won their second four-star tournament of the year with a straight-set win over Poland’s Grzegorz Fijalek and Michal Bryl. It was the fifth win for the Viking pair over the past two seasons – four of which have come over Fijalek and Bryl. Summaries:
FIVB World Tour
Itapema (BRA) ~ 16-19 May 2019
(Full results here)
Men: 1. Anders Mol/Christian Sorum (NOR); 2. Grzegorz Fijalek/Michal Bryl (POL); 3. Christiaan Varenhorst/Steven van de Velde (NED); 4. Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak (POL). Semis: Mol/Sorum d. Kantor/Losiak, 2-1; Fijalek/Bryl d. Varenhorst/Van de Velde, 2-0. Third: Varenhorst/van de Velde d. Kantor/Losiak, 2-0. Final: Mol/Sorum d. Fijalek/Bryl, 2-0 (21-19, 28-26).
Women: 1. Alix Klineman/April Ross (USA); 2. Sarah Pavan/Melissa Humana-Paredes (CAN); 3. Heather Bansley/Brandie Wilkerson (CAN); 4. Joy Stubbe/Marleen Ramond-van Iersel (NED). Semis: Pavan/Humana-Paredes d. Bansley/Wilkerson, 2-1; Klineman/Ross d. Stubbe/Van Iersel, 2-0. Third: Bansley/Wilkerson d. Stubbe/van Iersel, 2-1. Final: Klineman/Ross d. Pavan/Humana-Paredes, 2-1 (25-23, 18-21, 15-10).