HAMBURG, Germany — April Ross is not satisfied with a silver medal.
“I think satisfied is the wrong word, but grateful to be standing on the podium and get all those qualifying points toward Tokyo is huge,” the 37-year-old said after she and her partner Alix Klineman lost 23-21, 23-21 to Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes in the gold-medal match of the 2019 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships on Saturday.
“In a way, it motivates us a ton and going into the Beach Major Gstaad next week, that’s a lot of points there, too, so we’re going to be looking to get better.”
Pavan and Humana-Paredes clinched a spot in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and took home 1,600 World Tour points and $60,000. Klineman and Ross claimed $45,000 and 1,440 points.
In the men’s competition, Trevor Crabb and Tri Bourne split their matches on Saturday, defeating Brazilians Andre Loyola and George Wanderley in the quarterfinals, but then falling to Russian’s Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Oleg Stoyanovskiy in the semifinals.
Sunday, the Americans will face No. 1-seeded Anders Mol and Christian Sorum of Norway in the bronze-medal match.
The gold-medal match marked the third time Klineman and Ross met Pavan and Humana-Paredes on the FIVB World Tour this year, but previously, the Americans had the upper hand both times.
“A lot of these matches were super hard fought matches and I think we progressed a lot throughout the tournament,” Klineman said. “It wasn’t the ending that we dreamed of, but luckily we have another big tournament around the corner and I’m sure this will fuel the fire for us.”
Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho defeated Swiss pair Tanja Huberli and Nina Betschart in the bronze-medal match 21-18, 22-20, ending Australia’s World Championships medal drought that extended to 2003.
“Standing on the podium at a World Champs, it’s a massive achievement, so really proud of us,” Artacho said.
Just last year, Clancy and Artacho won bronze in Hamburg at the 2018 FIVB World Tour Finals.
“I’m pretty lucky that I have some pretty amazing, positive teammates and our team is always laughing and happy,” Clancy said. “We don’t dwell in the negatives, so we just keep looking forward and keep growing our game.”
After the bronze-medal match, the 17th-seeded Swiss team took a moment to reflect on their incredible fourth-place World Championships run that included upsets of two Brazilian pairs.
“To realize that we’re leaving this tournament empty-handed is tough,” Huberli said. “But the experience we had in the last few days was amazing and we’ll keep those memories in our minds and our hearts forever.”
Both of Crabb and Bourne’s matches on Saturday went to three sets, with the semifinal going the way of the Russians 21-13, 19-21, 15-11—the first time all tournament Stoyanovskiy and Krasilnikov lost as much as a set.
“We battled back after losing the first set,” Crabb said. “We had some momentum going in the third, had a couple of really good plays and big serves, and had a little run there. We gave it all we had and had a good battle.”
“We ain’t done yet, no way,” Bourne added. “We gave ourselves an opportunity to win, we had our chances to win in the third set, that’s what we wanted. We’ll have another one tomorrow.”
In the quarterfinal, Bourne and Crabb lost the opening set, but they didn’t panic.
After all, they’d been there before. In fact, at this World Championships, the American pair had twice come back to win in three after losing the opening set, so it came as no surprise that they were able to do the same in the quarterfinal, winning 16-21, 21-15, 17-15.
Not only did they come back from a set down, but Bourne and Crabb also had to stave off three match points after the Brazilians went up 14-11 in the third set.
“We have relentless confidence,” Bourne said. “It doesn’t really matter what the score is, as long as we’re sticking together, sticking to our game plan, we trust that we can come back and that’s when it happens.”
Bourne and Crabb typically split block, but toward the end of the third set in the quarterfinal, they made an adjustment to have Bourne block full time and keep Crabb back on defense.
“It’s really hard for a team to be up and then see the opponents keep their confidence up and that focus,” Bourne said, “so they probably felt a little bit of pressure and then we put that pressure on them and then we came back.”
“We most certainly don’t try it,” Crabb said. “We always want to win the first set because it helps us in dictating the match but in a three-set match whoever wins the second gets into that last one with a lot of confidence. We’re always ready for a third set when pressure is on. This is certainly our biggest win as a team, but we’re not done yet.”
The World Championships dreams of Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena ended in the quarterfinals with a 21-18, 21-17 defeat at the hands of the young home team of Julius Thole and Clemens Wickler.
“They’re a tough serving team. Most Germans are, most Germans have a really good float serve, and their pass-set is spot on,” Lucena said. “Thole I think is a good blocker, he’s really technical, takes away space. I thought we adjusted a little too late.
“I was running a quicker set and as soon as we got to an up-and-down set it made it a little bit more difficult for them, but unfortunately it was at 14-7.”
“They just played really well today, they didn’t make many mistakes,” Dalhausser added. “We had to earn all our points and they served really tough, played good defense, and they were just the better team today.
“If the Germans play like that, I think they’ll give Norway a run for their money.”
That statement from Dalhausser proved to be prophetic, as Thole and Wickler defeated Mol and Sorum in three sets to earn their spot in Sunday’s gold-medal match where they will play in front of an enthusiastic home crowd.
Bourne and Crabb will play in the bronze-medal match at 6:30 AM ET, and the gold-medal match will take place at 8 a.m. Eastern.