CANCUN, Mexico (April 26, 2021) – Two out of three. The number of sets one needs to win a beach volleyball match? Yes. But also, the number of medals Alix Klineman and April Ross have won in 2021. They picked up their second with a bronze in Tournament 2 of the FIVB’s Cancun Hub Monday.
“This was a really, really hard medal to win,” Ross told the FIVB after the match. “In this atmosphere with the wind and the heat, for us, that’s a really good finish. We’re looking to improve next week, but [we’re] very happy with this performance.”
The pair claimed bronze after sweeping the Netherlands’ Sanne Keizer and Madelein Meppelink, 2-0 (21-17, 21-17), in the third-place match. Klineman/Ross finished Tournament 2 with a 5-1 record, only losing in the semifinals.
“We had some tough serving. We experimented a lot on defense,” Klineman said about the bronze medal match. “But mostly we stayed tough, stayed together. We just did the best we could.”
The tournament in general was a bounce-back performance for the pair who tied for ninth at Tournament 1 in Cancun. Klineman/Ross even avenged that first-tournament loss to Australian duo Taliqua Clancy/Mariafe Artacho del Solar en route to bronze, beating the Aussie pair in Tournament 2’s second round.
Kelly Claes/Sarah Sponcil also reached Tournament 2’s quarterfinal round where they fell in two sets to Keizer/Meppelink. The tie for fifth place added 80 points to Claes and Sponcil’s Olympic Ranking total. The duo is now 160 points behind Brooke Sweat/Kerri Walsh Jennings for the United States’ second and final Olympic qualifying spot.
Besides Klineman/Ross and Claes/Sponcil, three more American duos reached the second round of the knockout stage. Tri Bourne/Trevor Crabb reached round two by sweeping past reigning world champions Viacheslav Krasilnikov/Oleg Stoyanovskiy of Russia. In round two, Bourne/Crabb faced the top-ranked team in the world, Anders Mol/Christian Sorum of Norway. The Americans fell in two sets but did earn 40 more points towards Olympic qualification.
Sweat/Walsh Jennings also picked up a top-five win to reach the second round. They erased a one-set deficit to Ana Patricia Silva Ramos/Rebecca Cavalcanti Barbosa Silva of Brazil, ranked fourth in the world, for a thrilling 2-1 (18-21, 21-14, 22-20) win. Their run ended in the second round, however, to Fan Wang/Xinyi Xia of China. The tie for ninth did not net them any additional Olympic Ranking points.
Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena reached the second round by virtue of winning pool F, but they fell to the Netherlands’ Christiaan Varenhorst/Steven van de Velde. Despite the loss, they solidified their hold on a second Olympic berth by picking up additional 160 Olympic ranking points, 120 more than Bourne/Tr. Crabb earned. The 2016 Olympians now lead Bourne/Tr. Crabb by 240 points.
The third and final tournament of the Cancun hub will officially begin Wednesday, April 28, although country quota matches will take place Tuesday, April 27. Every match will once again be streamed on the FIVB’s Beach Volleyball YouTube channel.