April Ross is a model of consistency


LAUSANNE, Switzerland, February 16, 2021 - She began the decade as reigning world champion and ends it with an Olympic silver and bronze in her collection, as well as two silvers from FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships.  


During that time she has been paired and enjoyed success with four different partners, and with the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in the year ahead there is no reason to believe that she won’t add more gloss to a career that has reaped medals galore. 


At the moment Ross is well-on course for her third Olympic Games. The 38-year-old and Alix Klineman are second in the provisional FIVB Olympic Rankings. 


The US pair have showed that they should be among the leading sides at Tokyo 2020. In fact, after they teamed up at the start of 2018, they did not hang around to lay down a marker of how competitive they can be.  


In their first tournament together, the Dela Beach Open in The Hague, they won 10 consecutive matches to go from the country quota round, through qualifying, into the main draw to the top of the podium with a 2-0 (21-12, 21-15) victory over Brazil’s Carolina Salgado and Maria Antonelli.  


Debut victory

Klineman had previously played volleyball for the USA and she made her FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour debut in The Hague.


Victory came under the guidance of coach Jennifer Kessy, who was Ross’ partner when she won gold at the Stavanger 2009 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships, and silver at the London 2012 Olympic Games.


“We have a great feeling and we’re all on the same page,” Ross said after collecting her gold medal. “We all have the same mentality, the same culture and same values.

“We have our new coach Jen Kessy, so we have this team unit. She brings so much knowledge because she played so recently and for so long and she has a really good head for the game.


“That matters so much when you’re on the court and you’re playing so hard for each other. It is a really, really a special feeling out there.”


After their initial success it took until the end of the year before they found their way back on to the podium, however, when they won gold at the Yangzhou 4-Star, as well as the North, Central American and Caribbean (NORCECA) Championships.


In 2019 they really showed their prowess on the court. At the Hamburg 2019 World Championships the pair won silver, Ross’ third World Championships medal after gold at Stavanger 2009 and silver with Lauren Fendrick at Vienna 2017.


They added gold from the Gstaad 5-Star and Itapema 4-Star, as well as silver from the Tokyo 4-Star.


While lockdown meant they have not been able to train or play to the same extent, Ross did not let it affect her with her Instagram videos of her training regime going viral.


Up and running


That Ross made such a strong start to life with Klineman should come as no surprise.


She and Kessy almost made as fast a start when they teamed up, and while they missed out on the podium in their first tournament together they made up for it by winning gold in their second, the 2007 Stavanger Grand Slam.


They certainly enjoyed playing in the Norwegian port and after they won bronze there in 2008, a year on they were crowned world champions.


It put them in the upper echelons of the beach volleyball world and while they lost their world title at Rome 2011, come London 2012 it was only the Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 champions Kerri Walsh-Jennings and Misty May-Treanor who stopped them leaving with gold.


By then Kessy was eyeing retirement and after promising to find Ross the best partner she could she did not have to look far. When Walsh-Jennings returned in 2013 following the birth of her third child, Ross had found her new partner.


“I’m excited to be playing with Kerri,” Ross said. “Going towards Rio we plan to be partners and go for Rio. We do not plan to be together until maybe September or October, just to get a little experience going into 2014.


“We’re 100 percent planning on it, Jen (Kessy) is in on it. It was a collaborative thing and I wanted to make sure that Jen was ok with it. It has been such a special partnership with Jen, I didn’t want it to end badly in any way, so we all worked it together and that is what we are all happy with.”


Rio bound


It was another strong start as Ross and Walsh-Jennings won gold in their second and third World Tour tournaments in tandem at the end of 2013, and then their first of 2014.


They won eight more World Tour golds on the way to the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games where reigning world champions Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas of Brazil stopped them in the semifinals at Copacabana, but they recovered to beat Larissa Franca and Talita Antunes to win bronze.


One more World Tour gold came their way before they split in 2017 and Ross was then in tandem with Fendrick for five tournaments before the chance to partner Klineman came up.


They have not featured on the World Tour since September 2019, but they did return to the sand in July and August and won three tournaments from three on the US-based AVP Tour.


Ross also competed alongside Emily Day in the King of Beach tournament in Utrecht in the Netherlands where they finished fifth.


It makes a change from earlier in the year when she built a makeshift court in her garden and gym in her garage to make sure that she is in the best condition possible for Tokyo 2020 and when the World Tour resumes.


“As the postponement got closer it seemed inevitable, so I wasn’t shocked when they made the announcement, but I was hanging onto it,” Ross said at the time.


“I think it’s really important in these times to be able to go with the flow and use them for what we can. I’m not panicked about not being able to train or anything, just doing what I can within the parameters that we’re at.”