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Alix Klineman and April Ross earn victory at AVP Manhattan Beach Open

The pinnacle of a volleyball girl’s dream is winning the Manhattan Beach American Volleyball Pro Open. The names of the previous victor’s names line the pier for every visitor and local to see. Pairs prepare all year for this tournament and to show their talents to their friends and family. This past Sunday the southern California beach town of Manhattan Beach hosted their annual weekend tournament for the premier beach volleyball athletes for the AVP Gold Series. Sixteen pairs entered into the tournament, including recent NCAA Beach Volleyball National Champion Sarah Sponcil with Stanford’s Beach Volleyball Assistant Coach Lauren Fendrick. The previous reigning champions, Day and Brittany Hockevar, both competed in the tournament, but with different partners. Day competed with Betsi Metter Flint, making it to the Semi-Finals when they lost to Hochevar and her new partner Kelly Claes. Claes came off a successful first season on the AVP tour, with winning the season finale in Chicago and led the AVP in assists with 7.92 per a set.

All eyes were on Alix Klineman and April Ross. Klineman spent her undergraduate years at Stanford playing on their women’s indoor volleyball team and won a National Championship. Now an assistant coach for Stanford’s beach volleyball team, she returns to her hometown of Manhattan Beach. All eyes were on her to win the title and earn her place on the pier. Earlier in the year, Klineman and Ross won an FIVB event in The Hague, which made them the first women to win a gold medal in their first international beach event. The first set of the final match of the tournament had a packed stadium. Both teams had to fight for every point and Ross and Klineman had many set point opportunities. Finally, they hit a break with a clean dig by Ross to Klineman getting the kill to give them the first set of the match. Claes and Hochevar came back for an easy win in the second set. Claes, also a USC alumna from Southern California, came back with an epic showing of her skills, racking up a total of 32 kills going into the third set.

Both Claes and Hochevar have won two previous Manhattan Beach Opens and their experience showed in the third match. After Ross hit the ball into the net, she called a timeout to work out a strategy to change the momentum. After a heated disagreement between the team during the timeout, they ultimately decided to go after Claes. After the timeout Ross came out with an aggressive attack, and Klineman’s block tied up the score. This was the beginning of a 30-serve freeze with no team able to take a two-point advantage. Ross stepped to the back line and whipped out her signature ace to make it set point for the Ross and Klineman duo. Klineman earned her spot on the pier with a solid block on Hochevar. The third set ended 17-15 putting Ross and Klineman on top and their names forever in the pier. While this has not been the largest stage they have both played on or will play on, this victory means a lot for the hometown girl Alix who played at the local high school and dreamed of this moment since she was a kid.

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