Two-time Olympic medalist April Ross and new partner Alix Klineman took silver at the world beach volleyball championships, getting swept 23-21, 23-21 in the final by Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes in Hamburg, Germany on Saturday.
“I’m pretty upset,” Ross told media in Hamburg, adding that she and Klineman did not play their best. “To get here and have it be Alix’s first world championships, it would have been so amazing to win the gold. … It stings a ton.”
Ross, 37, earned a world medal with a third different partner after taking gold with her now-coach Jennifer Kessy in 2009 and silver with Lauren Fendrick in 2017, four months before announcing her new partnership with Klineman. No U.S. men’s or women’s team has won a world title since 2009.
Klineman, 29, nearly scaled the heights of the sport in just her third season since switching from a professional indoor career.
“She’s already one of the best players in the world,” Ross said. “It’s really scary for other teams.”
Ross and Klineman consolidated their lead in U.S. Olympic qualifying standings with about a year’s worth of tournaments left. The top two U.S. pairs come June are in line to go to Tokyo.
Three-time Olympic champion Kerri Walsh Jennings, who split from Rio bronze-medal partner Ross in 2017, and her new partner, Brooke Sweat, are in the mix but took a step back with Walsh Jennings’ earliest career exit from an Olympics or worlds.
Pavan and Humana-Paredes have been one of the world’s formidable teams since pairing to start this Olympic cycle. But this marked their first tournament win this season.
Pavan, who helped Nebraska to the 2006 NCAA women’s indoor title with U.S. Olympic indoor captain Jordan Larson, lost in the Rio Olympic quarterfinals with former partner Heather Bansley.
In men’s action Saturday, Americans Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb fell in the semifinals to Russians Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Oleg Stoyanovskiy 21-13, 19-21, 15-11 after upsetting Brazilians Andre and George in the quarterfinals.
The top U.S. team of the last few years, 2008 Olympic champion Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena, were eliminated by Germans Julius Thole and Clemens Wickler 21-18, 21-17 in the quarterfinals.
NBC Sports’ Seth Rubinroit contributed to this report.
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