20.07.2020 - Vienna, Austria
The last time April Ross and Alix Klineman had played in a beach volleyball match was in September 2019, when they finished second at the closing event of last year’s AVP Season in Hawaii. If the prolonged break had any impact in their game, it didn’t show this weekend as the duo dominated the opening event of the three-tournament 2020 AVP Champions Cup in Long Beach.
The 2019 World Championships silver medalists were undefeated in all their four matches in the tournament, dropping just one set along the way, and secured their eighth title in 13 events together in their home sand with a 24-22, 21-19 victory over Sara Hughes and Canadian blocker Brandie Wilkerson.
“It’s not what anybody hoped for, but I think we’re making the most of it,” Alix said after their win. “We took the time off to enjoy that time but also to get stronger and healthier. We’re just really grateful that we even have opportunities to play right now.”
In the semifinal, the A-Team had a rematch of last year’s World Championships final against Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes and won it 14-21, 21-15, 15-12. Sarah and Mel tied for third in the event with Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil.
The AMAZING pull by @AlixKlineman and the HUSTLE from @AprilRossBeach. 🔥 There were many fantastic plays from this phenomenal Women's Semifinal at the @MonsterHydro Cup and we can expect more heat going into the Women's Final. 🏆 Catch the Women's Final on @NBC at 1:30pm PT! #AVPChampionsCup
Veterans Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena also returned to competition in great form as the duo won the men’s tournament with a similar campaign and just one set lost, in the gold medal match, when they downed Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb 21-19, 13-21, 15-13.
“We’re super grateful, I’m super grateful for AVP putting these on,” Phil commented. “We’ve played these guys several times and I think that today for the most part we were just feeling each other out. We made some uncharacteristic mistakes on the second set and they took advantage of it and on set three it was basically the same, a few mistakes they made were enough for us to win.”
Tri Bourne/Trevor Crabb and Chase Budinger/Chaim Schalk went all the way to the semifinals and finished third.
The second event of the AVP Champions Cup will happen next weekend at the same location in Long Beach.