AVP Champions Cup: April Ross, Alix Klineman defeat defending champs for title

It seems only fitting that the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the world square off in the championship match of any beach volleyball event. That was the case Sunday when top-seeded April Ross and Alix Klineman took on No. 3 Sarah Pavan/Melissa Humana-Paredes in the final of the second leg of the AVP Champions Cup.

Ross and Klineman — ranked No. 2 in the world by the FIVB behind Humana-Paredes and Pavan — emerged with an impressive straight-sets victory by scores of 21-15, 21-19.

Ross, of Costa Mesa, received a fine set from Manhattan Beach’s Klineman to finish off the match with a kill.

A week earlier, in the first leg of the series, Ross and Klineman defeated Humana-Paredes and Pavan in three sets in the semifinals on their way to that title.

The series culminates next week at the Convention Center in Long Beach. No fans have been allowed. There is a total of $700,000 in prize money.

Afterward, Ross talked about going against Humana-Paredes and Pavan, whom they lost to in the 2019 World Championships in Hamburg, Germany.

“I think we tried to build off of our game plan from last week that we felt was good, but we could have executed a little bit more,” Ross said. “So I think we just ran with that and tried to dial that in.

“And then we really focused on bringing a ton of intense energy and I feel like we did that and it served us.”

With the results of the past two weeks, it stands to reason the confidence level of Ross and Klineman is probably sky-high.

“I think we feel pretty good about our performances today, but I also think we always know that it can change from day to day, match to match, especially against teams as good as the ones we’re going up against,” Klineman said. “Like, it never feels like it’s going to be a breeze.

“We have a lot of respect for all the competition here and I think we’re focused on trying to be even better for next weekend.”

Klineman had 15 kills, 10 digs, three blocks and three aces in the championship match and Ross delivered 15 kills, 15 digs and an ace.

Humana-Paredes and Pavan, out of Canada, had just 18 kills between them – nine apiece. Humana-Paredes also had 15 digs.

Ross and Klineman made it to their 11th consecutive AVP final together — they’ve won nine of those — by defeating seventh-seeded Emily Day and Lauren Fendrick 21-17, 21-14 in the semifinals.

Ross had 16 kills and 14 digs in that one, with Klineman coming through with 13 kills, three digs, two blocks and four aces.

Day led her team with 14 kills and 10 digs.

Pavan and Humana-Paredes defeated No. 2-seeded Brandie Wilkerson/Sara Hughes in the other semifinals match 24-22, 21-19. Humana-Paredes had 16 kills and 25 digs for her side, Hughes had 17 kills and 28 digs to lead her team.

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