2017-11-30 17:23:00 CEST

April Ross has a new partner!

After a tumultuous 2017 season, the two-time Olympic medalist is joining forces with Alix Klineman

April Ross (right) in action at the World Championships in ViennaApril Ross (right) in action at the World Championships in Vienna

The 2017 season was a rollercoaster for April Ross. Even though she scooped silver at the World Championships in Vienna in August, the veteran American struggled during the year, having to deal with with a partner switch a toe injury that both limited her performance in the FIVB World Tour.

The medal won in Vienna was the only one she collected in 2017, which ended up as her least successful season since 2006, when she competed in only two tournaments.

In 2018, Ross expects everything to be different and she started her preparation by changing her partner, as she will be teaming up with 27-year-old Alix Klineman in the upcoming season.    

“A couple of people approached me and I was really flattered,” she announced in an interview to the SandCast Podcast. “It was really hard to figure out what to do. I just trained with a couple of people and it came down to really intangible things and I decided to go with Alix Klineman and take a shot with her at Tokyo.”

Klineman is a 1.94m-tall blocker who recently transitioned from indoor volleyball to the beach after being part of the United States National Team for eight years. She has competed in some of strongest leagues in the world, including Brazilian and the Italian.

The Californian impressed in her first full season on the beach, winning a silver and a bronze medal in the AVP and was named their Rookie of Year at the end of the season.

Exactly where I'm supposed to be.

1,644 Likes, 40 Comments - Alix Klineman (@aklineman10) on Instagram: "Exactly where I'm supposed to be."

“Regarding her physical ability, I watched her a little bit and after just one season on the beach I thought she was picking up some really good things. It was a lot quicker than I expected her to be. She’s pretty fast-twitch for being 6ft 5in (1.94m),” Ross noted.

In Klineman, Ross also found someone who shares her dream of winning an Olympic gold medal. A silver medalist in London 2012 and a bronze medalist in Rio 2016, the 35-year-old defender targets the top of the podium in Tokyo 2020, even though she understands all the challenges they’ll have to face on their way to the Japanese capital.

“One of the things I’ve learned over the years is the importance of building a like-minded team around yourself,” Ross added. “Axil could keep playing indoor and making a good amount of money, but she’s out here on the beach because she wants to be in the Olympics. She has something to prove and I like that being part of her motivation. See her coming with this competitive mentality was a big intangible for me.”

Ross and Klineman have entered to play their first tournament together early next year, in the World Four four-star event in The Hague, the Netherlands, from January 3 to 7.

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