Kira Walkenhorst

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German Olympic champions sweep year’s two biggest beach volleyball tournaments

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Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst continued to dominate the international beach volleyball scene, adding the World Tour Finals title Saturday to go along with their victory at the world beach volleyball championships earlier this month.

Playing in front of their home fans in Hamburg, the German pair defeated Brazil’s Agatha Bednarczuk and Duda Lisboa 21-17, 19-21, 15-10.

They also won the two most prestigious beach volleyball tournaments of 2016: the Rio Olympics and World Tour Finals.

“I’m speechless,” Ludwig said to reporters in Hamburg. “Being an Olympic champion is great, being a world champion is great, but winning the World Tour Finals here in front of the German fans in Hamburg was just awesome.”

Two U.S. teams, April Ross and Lauren Fendrick as well as Brooke Sweat and Summer Ross, finished tied for ninth in Hamburg.

Earlier this month, Ross and Fendrick earned the silver medal at the world beach volleyball championships, less than three months into their partnership. Ross, a two-time Olympic medalist, said the pair will reevaluate their partnership at the end of this season.

On the men’s side, the U.S. pair of Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena will play Poland’s Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak in the semifinals on Sunday.

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MORE: The beach volleyball player who turned down Kerri Walsh Jennings

April Ross, Lauren Fendrick take surprise silver at beach volleyball worlds

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Fewer than three months into their partnership, April Ross and Lauren Fendrick nearly scaled to the top of their sport.

Ross, the two-time Olympic medalist, and Fendrick, a Rio Olympian herself, took home silver from the world beach volleyball championships in Vienna on Saturday.

The Americans fell 19-21, 21-13, 15-9 in the final to German Olympic champions Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst.

Few expected the 35-year-olds to get that far, becoming the first U.S. men or women to earn world medals since Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor‘s silver in 2011.

Ross, after her split from triple Olympic champion Walsh Jennings, teamed up with Fendrick in the spring.

Ross has one of the top résumés in the sport — 2009 World gold and 2012 Olympic silver with Jennifer Kessy and 2016 Olympic bronze with Walsh Jennings.

But Fendrick came to Austria having never made a top-level international tournament final in 97 appearances dating to her 2008 debut, according to Bvbinfo.com.

In Vienna, Ross and Fendrick swept through their pool — dropping one set across three matches — and toughed out bracket play, needing the full three sets in the round of 32, round of 16 and the semifinals to meet the German champions.

Later on Saturday, the last remaining U.S. men’s team, Beijing Olympic champion Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena, was eliminated by Russia’s Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Nikita Liamin in the quarterfinals.

The men’s semifinals and final will be played on Sunday. None of the teams from the Rio Olympic quarterfinals are still alive.

The U.S. was without its biggest star in Vienna. Walsh Jennings, 38, is missing worlds after dislocating her five-times surgically repaired right shoulder in a match with new partner Nicole Branagh two weeks ago.

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MORE: The beach volleyball player who turned down Kerri Walsh Jennings

U.S. women into gold-medal match at beach volleyball worlds

Lauren Fendrick
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April Ross, a two-time Olympic medalist, and Lauren Fendrick will play for gold at the world beach volleyball championships, less than three months into their new partnership.

The Americans rallied past Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes 19-21, 21-16, 15-11 in Friday’s semifinals in Vienna.

Ross and Fendrick, who paired after Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings split three months ago, will play Olympic champions Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst of Germany in Saturday’s final.

The last U.S. women’s pair to earn a world medal was Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor, who took silver in 2011. Walsh Jennings, 38, is missing worlds after dislocating her five-times surgically repaired right shoulder in a match with new partner Nicole Branagh two weeks ago.

Ross won the 2009 World title and 2012 Olympic silver with former partner Jennifer Kessy and 2016 Olympic bronze with Walsh Jennings.

Beijing Olympic champion Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena lead the men’s teams in Saturday’s quarterfinals. In fact, they are the only team from the Rio Olympic quarterfinals still alive.

Dalhausser and former partner Todd Rogers were the last U.S. men to earn world medals — bronze in 2009 and gold in 2007.

Reigning Olympic and world champions Alison and Bruno were upset by Canadians Ben Saxton and Chaim Schalk in the round of 16. That matched the Brazilians’ worst finish since June 2015.

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MORE: World beach volleyball championships broadcast schedule