Alix Klineman of Manhattan Beach and April Ross of Costa Mesa will play for the Olympic gold medal in women’s beach volleyball Thursday, facing Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy of Australia.
The match from Shiokaze Park near Tokyo Bay is set to begin at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time and will be televised by NBC.
Klineman and Ross have won all six of their matches in the Tokyo Olympics and 12 of their 13 sets. They advanced to the gold-medal match with a 21-12, 21-11 victory over Anouk Verge-Depre and Joana Heidrich of Switzerland in a semifinal Wednesday.
“It was amazing,” Klineman said. “We were expecting a battle. (The Swiss are) a super physical and aggressive team, and we knew we had to be physical back. We wanted to impose our game on them, and I think we did that from the start.”
The victory assured Klineman and Ross of at least a silver medal. Ross won a silver medal at the London Games in 2012 and a bronze at the 2016 Rio Games. Klineman is a first-time Olympian.
“I can’t believe it. It’s the most amazing feeling,” Klineman said. “We dreamed of this and this is what we worked for every single day. But just because you work for it, and you do everything you can, doesn’t mean that it happens. The fact that everything is falling into place, it feels so magical.”
The 31-year-old Klineman graduated from Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach in 2007. She was selected as the 2006 Gatorade National Player of the Year after leading the Mustangs to their third consecutive state championship.
Klineman was the 2010 Volleyball Magazine Player of the Year as a Stanford senior, then played indoor volleyball professionally in Italy from 2011-2015 and Brazil from 2015-17. She switched to beach volleyball in 2017 and was selected as the Association of Volleyball Professionals Rookie of the Year.
At the end of 2017, Klineman and Ross became playing partners.
The 39-year-old Ross was the 1999 Gatorade National Player of the Year as a senior at Newport Harbor High School, led USC to the 2002 and 2003 NCAA championships and won the 2003 Honda Award as the top collegiate women’s volleyball player.
Ross played professional indoor volleyball in Puerto Rico from 2004-06 then switched to beach volleyball in 2006.
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