Playing in their third straight FIVB World Tour final, April Ross and Alix Klineman claimed their fifth international medal of 2019 on Sunday at the pre-Olympic Tokyo four-star event, but it wasn’t the color they had hoped for.
Brazilians Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda “Duda” Lisboa defeated Ross and Klineman in the gold-medal match 21-19, 21-18.
These two teams have now split six matches.
The gold medal, Agatha and Duda’s fifth together on the World Tour, marked a remarkable comeback for the pair after they lost their first two pool-play matches in Tokyo before winning four in a row to claim the title.
“After losing twice in the pool, we had to do something,” Agatha said to the FIVB. “We had good discussions with our coaches, and we came back and played smarter. You saw the worst of us early, and the best of us in the last four matches. This is a big win for us as we are battling the other good teams in Brazil for a spot in Tokyo 2020.”
Agatha and Duda received 800 points for the first-place finish, while Ross and Klineman walked away with 720, both valuable hauls in this Olympic qualification race. Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson of Canada, who earned the Tokyo bronze medal with a win over Germany’s Karla Borger and Julia Sude, walked away with 640 points.
Norwegians Anders Mol and Christian Sorum won the men’s gold medal, downing Germany’s Nils Ehlers and Lars Fluggen 21-17, 21-18 in the final. Mol and Sorum — who are only 22 and 23 years old, respectively — became the fastest European team, men’s or women’s, to win nine FIVB gold medals. This was Mol and Sorum’s 26th World Tour event together.
In an interview for a story on NBCSports.com, Jake Gibb described the pair thus: “The best blocker right now is Anders, and the best defender is Christian. It’s not really fair.”
“In my book, they are already among the top teams to ever play,” Phil Dalhausser said in the same NBCSports interview. “There are no holes in their game. I don’t see why they can’t keep this going.”
The Volley Vikings’ first chance to keep it going will come this week in Vienna, where the season’s second five-star event begins Monday.