Our girls did it! April Ross and Alix Klineman have sealed their spot in the beach volleyball history books with a 21-15, 21-16 straight-set Gold Medal match victory over Australia’s Mariafe and Talita. The USA now has four of the seven Gold Medals in Olympic Beach Volleyball history.
It feels good to be back atop the podium. Misty and Kerri spoiled us with Gold three years in a row. Then we were happy for April and Kerri rallying from a tough Semifinal loss in Rio 2016 to win the Bronze. But there is nothing like Gold. And I’m sure the person who feels that most in the world right now is April Ross, who has officially placed a delicious cherry on top of her illustrious career.
I’m just not surprised. The A-Team has been steadily improving since their 2018 debut on both the FIVB and AVP Tours. And they peaked at the exact right time. In their seven Tokyo 2020 matches, April and Alix only lost one set. Mind you – they lost 20-22 amid a torrential monsoon and then proceeded to win the next set 21-17 and the third with a dominating 15-5 beatdown.
Beatdown was the norm for April and Alix in Tokyo. For those who don’t play beach volleyball, 21-17 is about as wide a gap as the score can be not to be considered a blowout. 21-16 and below is painful and telling. So not only were April and Alix winning in Tokyo…they were absolutely destroying. Here are the scores of their seven matches.
Wang/Xue CHN: 21-17, 21-19
Elsa/Liliana ESP: 21-13, 21-16
Keizer/Meppelink NED: 20-22, 21-17, 15-5
Lidy/Leila CUB: 21-17, 21-15
Kozuch/Ludwig GER: 21-19, 21-19
Heidrich/Verge-Depre SUI: 21-12, 21-11
Mariafe/Taliqua AUS: 21-15, 21-16
For dramatic effect, I’ve highlighted the beatdowns in red and near beatdowns in blue. There are more crushing victories than there are close battles. They only went into “overtime” when they forced it in the one set they lost. For the Olympics – a tournament with the best in the world and four years of mounting pressure – that ratio is insane.
The average score in sets that went to 21 – 20.93
Opponents score in sets that went to 21 – 16.3
Translation: their Olympic run was generally a MEGA BEATDOWN.
Okay, I’m done saying beatdown. But I am not done with the epicness of the A-Team. This team is exceptional. They now have 6 international victories and 10 AVP Championships. April is now the first woman in history to have all three medals in Beach Volleyball – 2012 London Silver; 2016 Rio Bronze; 2020 Tokyo Gold. Alix may have the least amount of beach volleyball experience in the entire Olympic field, with only 3.5 years playing on the FIVB (one of which doesn’t count because #covid).
Beach fans aren’t the only people taking notice of the A-Team. The pop culture support they received during the Olympics was so fun. Mr. T – an original A-Team member himself – tweeted his admiration and support, saying, “When I heard they call you Ladies “The A-Team”, I had to Cheer You On! I Pity the Competition… Grrrr!” Comedian and movie star Amy Schumer posted multiple times, including a live Instagram feed of their Gold Medal Match point. Alix invited her onto the A-team #April #Alix #Amy. That totally works.
Though we don’t know what the future holds for April and Alix internationally, we’ll see April Ross in just one week’s time in Atlanta. She picked up Kelley Kolinske and will play as the #1-ranked team (Alix is sitting Atlanta out). Don’t miss your chance to see the newly-decorated three-time Olympic Medalist on Aug 13-15 at Atlantic Station in Atlanta, GA.