COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 19, 2019) – The team of April Ross and Alix Klineman (left to right in photo above) moved into first place among U.S. women’s beach teams hoping to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games with their victory Sunday in the final of the FIVB World Tour four-star event in Itapema, Brazil.

In the final, Klineman/Ross, seeded fifth, defeated Canada’s No. 2 seeded Sarah Pavan/Melissa Humana-Paredes, 25-23, 18-21, 15-10.

“It is so amazing (to win the tournament),” Ross told the FIVB. “The competition is so tough. From the very first match until the very end, you never play against an easy team. Everybody is playing at such a high level. So to win a gold medal means a lot.”

Klineman/Ross earned $20,000 and 800 points for the victory giving them 3,240 total points and moving them ahead of Kerri Walsh Jennings/Brooke Sweat in the U.S. race for berths at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Walsh Jennings/Sweat finished tied for fifth in Itapema after losing to Pavan/Humana-Paredes in the third round and now have 3,100 qualifying points. Both teams are in the top 10 among all teams trying to qualify.

Klineman/Ross’s victory was their second over Pavan/Humana-Paredes this month. They faced off in the final of the AVP event in Huntington Beach, Calif., on May 5, where the U.S. won 18-21, 21-12, 17-15.

“Every victory is important, but this counts for more,” Klineman said in Brazil. “We want to send a message and we want to be consistently the best. This match was very different from the last one in the style of play, it was a tough one. It’s always like this against them and we’re just grateful we managed to come out on top.”

Klineman/Ross beat the top-seeded Brazilian team of Agatha Bednarczuk / Eduarda “Duda” Lisboa in the quarterfinals (25-27, 21-18, 15-13).

Among other U.S. women’s teams in Itapema, Sara Hughes/Summer Ross finished tied for ninth after losing to Klineman/Ross in the second round (21-16, 12-21, 15-10). Kelley Larsen/Emily Stockman tied for 17th and Brittany Hochevar/Carly Wopat tied for 25th.

On the men’s side, the U.S. teams of Chase Budinger/Casey Patterson, Tri Bourne/Trevor Crabb and Reid Priddy/Theo Brunner all tied for fifth after losing in the quarterfinals. Ryan Doherty/John Hyden and Stafford Slick/Billy Allen each tied for 25th.

The next events on the FIVB World Tour are the four-star in Jinjiang, China (May 22-26), which will feature Klineman/Ross among other top U.S. teams, and the one-star Boracay Open in the Philippines (May 23-26), where Lara Dykstra/Cassie House are scheduled to compete.