Team USA is back on top of the women's beach volleyball world. Americans April Ross and Alix Klineman beat Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar of Australia in straight sets on Thursday night to win gold in the event. For the U.S., it is their first gold in women's beach volleyball since the legendary tandem of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings were the last team standing at the 2012 Games in London.
For May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings, that 2012 win was their straight gold medal in the event. This may be the start of a similar stretch for Ross and Klineman.
The Americans did not lose a single set in their elimination matches en route to the final, and against the pair of Australians, it was much of the same story.
After taking the first set, 21-15, Ross and Klineman went down 2-0 to begin the second frame. Then, they turned it on and went on a 10-1 scoring run to create some distance. The Australians fought back and came to within 20-16 in the second set. But that would be as close as they came, as the Americans scored on match point to win the final.
"It's so tough," Ross said. "It was such a shot in the dark. For us to get here and do this, with this kind of competition just blows my mind. To get a gold medal finally, feels so amazing"
For Ross, 39, it was her third Olympic medal and her first gold. She won silver with Jen Kessy at the 2012 Games and took home a bronze at the 2016 Olympics alongside her partner, the aforementioned Walsh Jennings. The win in Tokyo also makes Ross the oldest women to win a gold at the Olympics in any type of volleyball event.
As for Klineman, the Tokyo Games were the first Olympics she has ever competed in.
"I still don't know if i really ever expected this to come true," Klineman said. "It feels like such a fairy tale."