TOKYO (August 5, 2021) – Alix Klineman and April Ross have been tested in the playoffs so far at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, fighting off gritty teams from Cuba and Germany for a spot in the semifinals.
In the semis, they pushed back.
Klineman/Ross dominated Switzerland’s Anouk Verge-Depre/Joana Heidrich for a 2-0 (21-12, 21-11) win Wednesday, clinching a spot in the gold medal match at 7:30 p.m. Pacific/10:30 Eastern on Thursday, August 5 (11:30 a.m. August 6 local). Klineman/Ross will face Australia’s Mariafe Artacho del Solar/Taliqua Clancy in the finale.
“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 United States led Switzerland in every offensive category. Klineman/Ross tallied 24 attack points – eight more than the Swiss – and served up three aces. Ross herself matched the combined Swiss effort with 17 total points. She scored 15 points on 20 swings and added two service aces.
Klineman scored on nine of her 11 swings and added an ace of her own. Her presence was most felt at the net, where she made all four of the match’s blocks.
“Alix really took over with her blocking,” Ross said, “and that was a huge key to our gameplan. She really got in their face and affected them a lot.”
With the win, Klineman/Ross assure themselves of at least a silver medal. It will be Ross’ third Olympic medal – she took silver in 2012 London and bronze in 2016 Rio – but first-time Olympian Klineman will win her first.
“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.”
Neither Klineman nor Ross is celebrating yet. There’s still more to do, Ross said.
“We are going to prepare as hard as we can and recover as hard as we can for tomorrow.”
Klineman/Ross led for all but two points. In the first set, they won the match’s first three points, and they used a five-point run to go ahead 10-3. Verge-Depre/Heidrich won the next point but couldn’t trim the deficit past four points the rest of the frame.
The Swiss won the first point of the second set, but Klineman/Ross took a permanent lead by winning the next three. Another four-point run put the U.S. up 10-5, and they maintained that margin throughout the end of the match.