FIVB World Championships: April Ross, Alix Klineman To Meet Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan in AVP Huntington Rematch
Photo credit: FIVB
It was one of the boldest leaves, if not the boldest, of the beach volleyball season. Down 15-14 in the third set of the Huntington Beach finals to Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan, April Ross stood in the angle after a free ball to Humana-Paredes, who was approaching from the left side. Outside set, wrist-away swing.
By no more than two inches it was out.
The next swing, too, went long, a line over a pulling Alix Klineman to knot the score – it was in the freeze – at 15-15.
Five minutes later, after a Klineman block and another swing long, it was Ross and Klineman being named Huntington Beach Open champions.
Two months later, those same teams are vying for a bigger title, on a bigger stage. No freeze scoring. A shot at redemption for Humana-Paredes and Pavan.
At 6:15 a.m. in the U.S., Ross and Klineman and Humana-Paredes and Pavan will vie for a World Championship in Hamburg, Germany. They’ll do so in front of a crowd of five figures and for enough Olympic points to put the pressure of a good finish off for quite a bit.
It is on these stages – the big ones, the ones where legacies are forged and measured – that both teams have historically thrived. In the past year and a half, Ross and Klineman have won six of 10 AVPs and three FIVBs. They took fifth in the biggest events of the 2018 season, in Gstaad and Vienna, despite it being Klineman’s first full-time season abroad on the beach.
This year, they’ve already captured a pair of four-star titles and are now in the finals of the first major event.
It’s a track record that is similar to that of Humana-Paredes and Pavan, who are now in their third season as partners and briefly topped the World Rankings midway through 2018. The majors were where they have traditionally excelled. In 2017, their first year as teammates, they collected three top-five finishes, winning bronze in Gstaad and finishing fourth twice in Vienna and Hamburg.
A year later, they won in Gstaad.
Now, they have the opportunity to win another, against the same team they saw in the finals of the first AVP event of the season.
“To play such a good Canadian team,” Ross said after winning in Huntington, “I mean, it was U.S.A. vs. Canada, so to win on U.S. soil, it’s just so awesome.”
It’s on different soil this time, with different stakes. But it’s still U.S.A. vs. Canada.
If Huntington was any indicator, it will still be one phenomenal beach volleyball match.
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