COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (October 10, 2021) – USA Volleyball beach team April Ross/Alix Klineman ended the FIVB World Tour Finals Sunday with perhaps their best match of the tournament, sweeping Russia’s Nadezda Makroguzova/Svetlana Kholomina 2-0 (21-8, 21-17) to win bronze.
“We’re so happy with the bronze,” Ross said after the match. “There were difficult conditions to play in. To end on a great note feels amazing. We’re so stoked to be going home with a medal.”
That medal is the team’s fifth international medal of 2021, tied for the most among women’s teams on the FIVB World Tour. The A-Team, as Klineman/Ross are known, won gold at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and Doha Four-star, and they claimed bronze twice in the Cancun hub.
It’s also the first time an American women’s team finished on the World Tour Finals podium. Three men’s teams have medaled since the tournament’s inception in 2015, but no women’s pair previously reached the semifinals.
“I don’t think we played our best at times,” Klineman said, “but it’s been a long year, and we pushed through. April really carried the energy. I’m so happy we’re going to be on the podium. It’s always an honor to win a medal.”
The Americans dominated the bronze medal match scoresheet. They led Russia in attack points (25-17), blocks (4-1) and aces (2-0).
Klineman/Ross also used long scoring runs to claim victory. In the first set, they won eight in a row to take a 10-3 lead early. They kept applying pressure and won the frame 21-8. In the second, they won five points in a row for a 14-9 advantage. Makroguzova/Kholomina pulled back within one at 16-15, but three more points returned the American lead to four, where it remained.
Germany’s Julia Sude/Karla Borger won gold with a 2-1 (21-13, 23-21) win over Canada’s Sarah Pavan/Melissa Humana-Paredes.
Two other American duos competed in the World Tour Finals held in Cagliari, Italy. Kelly Claes/Sarah Sponcil tied for fifth after falling to Klineman/Ross in the quarterfinals. Jake Gibb/Taylor Crabb were eliminated after pool play, bringing an end to Gibb’s 21-year career.
The World Tour Finals was the penultimate tournament on the FIVB World Tour in 2021. Itapema, Brazil, will host a Four-star November 10-14. That tournament’s field will be finalized later in October.