World Championships Day 8 Review
By Tom Feuer
The singular brilliance of April Ross was on display twice Saturday as she and partner Alix Klineman dominated fellow Americans Sara Hughes/Summer Ross and Australia’s Mariafe Artacho and Taliqua Clancy Friday at the World Beach Volleyball Championships in Hamburg, Germany to advance to the Gold Medal game.
Meanwhile, two American men’s teams are in the final eight. Former World Champion Phil Dalhausser (2007) and his partner Nick Lucena by placing no worse than fifth have become the highest “Lucky Loser” finishers in World Championship history. Trevor Crabb and Tri Bourne have advanced to play the defending champion Andre Loyola and his young 22-year-old partner George Wanderley in the quarterfinals tomorrow at 10:30 am local time.
April Ross and Klineman will face Canadian rivals Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana Paredes in an All-North American women’s final. The Canadian duo pulled off a 19-17 third set thriller over the surprise team in the women’s bracket the Swiss pair of Tanja Huberli and Nina Betschart. The latter team could equal their best finish ever on the FIVB World Tour by beating Artacho and Clancy tomorrow in the bronze medal match.
April Ross has an enviable record in World Championship competition. Ten years ago she and partner (now current coach) Jen Kessy won the gold in Stavanger and then April won a silver two years ago with Lauren Fendrick in Vienna. Now Klineman is the third partner Ross will win a medal with in the global event. The difference between 2009 and 2019 Ross said was, “now I feel like there is a method to the madness and it is a little more calculated and we are executing our purpose.”
Klineman was also brilliant. For a relative newbie to beach volleyball she has shown incredible poise and toughness during the eight days of competition. Ross singled out Klineman for her performance. “A lot of it has to do with Alix’s serve. She came out and fired her serves on the backline. She was a huge presence at the net and sided out very well.” The 6-5, 29-year-old Klineman played her first major AVP event in May, 2017 and in her first FIVB event in January, 2018 she and Ross were victorious in The Hague.
Still playing with house money Dalhausser and Lucena given up for dead three days ago and relegated to the “Lucky Losers” just to make the single elimination bracket dismantled the Russian pair of 2017 World Championship bronze medalist Nikita Liamin and 23-year-old Taras Myskiv. In a typical understatement Dalhausser commented after the match, “We’re playing pretty well right now. Hopefully we can use this momentum for tomorrow because we are really going to need it!”
The American pair will now take on the young Germans Julius Thole (6-9, 22 years old) and partner 24-year-old Clemens Wickler. The Germans have had a dream run winning all five of their matches in straight sets including knocking out the 2013 World Champs and 2016 Olympic bronze medalists, Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands and the 2015 World and 2016 Olympic champion Alison Cerutti and his 2013 World silver medalist partner, Alvaro Filho. Thole and Wickler will have 13,000 plus fans solidly behind them
One other team Thole and Wickler beat in pool play was Trevor Crabb and Bourne who are on a great run of their own. Crabb and Bourne defeated the Russian duo of two-time Olympian Konstantin Semenov and Ilya Leshukov. That match was preceded by Trevor’s brother Taylor playing on center court with Jake Gibb against reigning World bronze medalist Viacheslav Krasilnikov (with Liamin) and Oleg Stoyanovskiy. Krasilnikov and Stoyanovskiy, at least co-gold medal favorites with Norwegians Anders Mol and Christian Sorum, were too much for the Americans.
Bourne’s victory today came eleven months after his return to beach volleyball following a debilitating illness that knocked him out for almost two years. His first FIVB victory came in Berlin in 2014 and now back in Germany the worse he will fare is taking home fifth place and the 960 Olympic qualifying points that come with it.
Another notable performance has been turned in by ex-AVP player Adrian “sky ball” Carambula and partner Enrico Rossi who only gained entry into the Worlds when a team from Sierra Leone had to pull out due to “travel issues.” The Italian team may be late to the party but their play has been spectacular as they lost their first match of the tournament 18-16 in the third but have been on a roll ever since. Carambula the most entertaining player on tour has treated fans to his sky ball repertoire including in mid-point in one match. Incidentally, Carambula’s highest finish on the AVP was three thirds achieved with Stafford Slick.
Today, Slick had the most heartbreaking of losses playing with Billy Allen and losing to the Italian Olympic silver medalists Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai, 15-13 in the third.