BEACH VOLLEYBALL: Americans Klineman and Ross triumph at Gstaad 5-star major!

World no. 1s April Ross and Alix Klineman of the U.S. (Photo: FIVB)

Something special is happening in women’s beach volleyball and the U.S. pair of Alix Klineman and April Ross are the protagonists.

After pairing up in 2018, they have hit their stride and following their silver medal at the FIVB World Championships in Germany last week, they blew through the field at the five-star Swatch Major Gstaad in Switzerland and defeated Brazil’s Maria Antonelli and Carol Solberg, 15-21, 21-17, 15-12 for the title and the $40,000 first prize.

Asked if finishing second at the Worlds was a motivator, Ross, 37, replied with an emphatic “Yes. We were so frustrated after losing the gold medal match in Hamburg last week. That frustration carried over to our matches this week. This was a big win for us as a team.

“We had a terrible start to this tournament and a devastating loss last week and so to bounce back like this and fight as hard as we could with some slow starts to matches, like in the final, I’m really proud of how we stayed together and kept our attitudes positive. That was huge. I really feel like our communication helped win that match.”

Klineman, 29, and Ross barely got out of their pool, barely wining their first match and then losing, 2-1, to Spain’s Liliana Fernandez and Elsa Baquerizo McMillan, 1-2. But they turned up their play and raced through their bracket on the way to the final.

In their 15 appearances as a pair, Klineman and Ross have now won four times on the FIVB World Tour, plus one silver, and 10 medals in AVP play in the U.S.

They defeated American rivals and seventh-seeded Brooke Sweat and Kerri Walsh Jennings in the quarterfinals, 2-0, as that new team is also starting to play better and better. This is good news for the U.S. looking ahead to Tokyo.

After their disappointment in the World Championships – where they finished third – the Norwegian men’s team of Anders Mol and Christian Sorum got back to winning, with a second straight victory in Gstaad. They defeated Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen (NED) in straight sets by 21-17 and 21-15.

Mol said “I’m really proud of how we performed this week, how we managed to recover from the world championships in such a good way. We were a little disappointed about the semifinal, of course really happy with the bronze, but we were going for the gold. But it was as long week with a lot of media, a lot of new things for us.

“We just love it here, we love playing in Gstaad, we have so many good memories from last year so we were really excited to play here and ready to put on a big fight for the cowbells. So I’m happy and proud of how we managed to find energy in the end.” The victory in Gstaad was their 100th win as a team in all tournaments, another special memory in Switzerland. Summaries:

FIVB World Tour/Gstaad Major
Gstaad (SUI) ~ 9-14 July 2019
(Full results here)

Men: 1. Anders Mol/Christian Sorum (NOR); 2. Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen (NED); 3. Evandro Goncalves Oliveira/Oscar Bruno Schmidt (BRA); 4. Paolo Nicolai/Daniele Lupo (ITA). Semis: Brouwer/Meeuwsen d. Nicolai/Lupo, 2-0; Mol/Sorum d. Evandro/Bruno Schmidt, 2-0. Third: Evandro/Bruno Schmidt d. Nicolai/Lupo, 2-1. Final: Mol/Sorum d. Brouwer/Meeuwsen (NED), 2-0 (21-17, 21-15).

Women: 1. Alix Klineman/April Ross (USA); 2. Maria Antonelli/Carol Solberg (BRA); 3. Ana Patricia Silva/Rebecca Cavalcanti (BRA); 4. Nina Betschart/Tanja Huberli (SUI). Semis: Klineman/Ross d. Betschart/Huberli, 2-0; Maria Antonelli/Carol d. Ana Patricia/Rebecca, 2-0. Third: Ana Patricia/Rebecca d. Betschart/Huberli, 2-0. Final: Klineman/Ross d. Maria Antonelli/Carol, 2-1 (15-21, 21-17, 15-12).