The beach-volleyball world collectively sat up and took notice this week as Alix Klineman and April Ross won gold at the FIVB four-star event in Dela Beach in the Netherlands. Sunday they took out fellow qualifiers and defending champions Maria Antonelli and Carolina Salgado 21-12, 21-15 to put the exclamation point on their first event together.
Klineman and Ross won 10 consecutive matches to win the four-star event, two in country quota, two in qualifying, two in pool play, and four in the playoffs. In their 10 matches they dropped only one set, and that was to fellow Americans Brittany Hochevar and Emily Day in the country-quota match (15-21, 21-18, 15-8).
Not only that, they beat three tough Brazilian teams (Maria Antonelli and Carolina Salgado Solberg, Fernanda Alves and Barbara Seixas, and Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda Lisboa), known for their southern-hemisphere early season prowess.
Klineman, Ross, and coach Jennifer Kessy discussed the win in an interview with Nils Koepke:
In the-bronze medal match, Yulia Abalakina and Ksenia Dabizha of Russia defeated Ieva Dumbauskaite and Monika Povilaityte of Lithuania 19-21, 21-16, 15-9. The bronze medal is the Russians’ best finish, surpassing their fourth place 2017 finish in Nantong, China.
In the men’s draw, Martins Plavins and Edgars Tocs of Latvia earned gold by defeating Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak of Poland 21-14, 21-12. Bronze went to Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands, who defeated countrymen Jasper Bouter and Christiaan Varenhorst 21-18, 21-14.
The tournament is an auspicious beginning for Plavins and Tocs in their first event together. The win is the first for Tocs, who played with Rihard Finsters from 2014-2017. The gold medal is Plavins’ third after a 2012 win in Stare Jablonski with Janis Smedins and 2014 in Anapa, Russia with Aleksandrs Solovejs. Plavins also won bronze in the 2012 London Olympics with Janis Smedins.