The Mercury News
Roundup: Stanford’s Alix Klineman in gold medal volleyball match.
Stanford alum Alix Klineman dominated the net today as she and veteran partner April Ross swept into the Olympic gold medal match for beach volleyball.
Klineman and Ross needed only 38 minutes to dismantle Anouk VergeDepre and Joana Heidrich of Switzerland 21-12, 21-11 at Tokyo’s Shiokaze Park.
The Americans will face Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy of Australia, who defeated Latvia 2-0 to advance. The championship match is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. today (PDT).
Klineman and Ross never looked better in rolling past the Swiss. They had struggled in the quarterfinals before eliminating reigning Olympic champions Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst of Germany.
Klineman, a four-time Stanford All-American who graduated in 2011, used her imposing 6-foot-5 height to frustrate the Swiss. She had nine kills and more significantly four blocks.
“Alix took over with her blocking and that was a huge key to our game plan,” Ross said. “Alix really got in their face and that affected them a lot.”
Ross, 39, had 15 kills and two aces to pace the U.S. offense. The former USC AllAmerican from Costa Mesa has won silver and bronze medals in the past two Olympics.
The Californians wasted little time taking control as temperatures rose to 86 degrees at the 9 a.m. start in Tokyo.
Heidrich and VergeDepre were forced to take a timeout when trailing 7-3 in the first set. It didn’t slow down Klineman, 31, and Ross who extended the lead to 10-3 after the break.
The Swiss closed to 16-11 before Klineman got two blocks and Ross had two crosscourt winners to put it away.
“We were expecting a battle,” said Klineman, of Manhattan Beach. “They’ve been really hot this tournament. They are a super physical and aggressive team, and we knew we had to be physical back. We wanted to impose our game on them and we did that from the start and that worked in our favor.”
Switzerland took its only lead of the match when scoring the first point of the second set. Klineman and Ross continued to pressure their opponents with the combination of net play and Ross’ hitting that worked so well in the first set.
“Everything is falling into place,” Klineman said.
“It feels so magical.” — Elliott Almond
WOMEN’S BASKETBALL Americans earn berth in tourney semifinals
Breanna Stewart scored 20 of her 23 points in the first half to help the U.S. beat Australia 79-55 on Wednesday in the quarterfinals.
The Americans will face Serbia on Friday in the semifinals looking to advance to their seventh consecutive gold medal game. The Serbians, who won the bronze medal in the 2016 Rio Games, rallied to beat China 77-70 in the quarterfinals. France will meet host Japan in the other semifinal.
For the first time since getting together about three weeks ago the U.S. looked like the dominant team that’s won the last six gold medals and 53 consecutive games in the Olympics dating back to the 1992 Barcelona Games.
The Americans led 26-12 after the opening quarter as Australia had 10 turnovers in the period.
WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL United States keeps gold medal hopes alive
Five years after their quest for a first Olympic gold medal was denied in the semifinals, the United States women’s volleyball team has returned to that stage after a relatively easy quarterfinal win.
The Americans overcame the absence of two starters to beat the Dominican Republic 25-11, 25-20, 25-19.
The U.S. will play Serbia on Friday for a spot in the gold medal game in a rematch of a semifinal the Americans lost five years ago in Rio de Janeiro.
This marks the sixth time in the past eight Olympics that the U.S. has made it this far in the tournament but is still seeking its first gold in the sport. The U.S. won a medal at the past three Olympics, getting silver in 2008 and ’12 and bronze in 2016.
MEN’S WATER POLO Semifinalists are set, U.S. falls to Spain
Filip Filipovic and Serbia overpowered Italy 106, joining Hungary, Greece and Spain in the men’s water polo semifinals at the Tokyo Olympics. Krisztian Manhercz scored seven times to lead Hungary to a 15-11 win against Croatia. Greece advanced with a 10-4 victory over Montenegro, and Spain held off the United States for a 12-8 win.
Filipovic, 34, was the MVP when Serbia won gold at the Rio de Janeiro Games. He scored three times against the reigning world champions.
Spain improved to 6-0 in Tokyo, outscoring its opponents 73-39, but it was pushed into the second half in the United States’ best performance of the tournament.
Hannes Daube scored three times for the U.S., which has dropped four straight.
WOMEN’S GOLF Sagstrom takes one-shot lead
Lexi Thompson had to bring in a team manager the last three holes when her caddie succumbed to the heat. Players walked down sunbaked fairways using umbrellas, some of them occasionally holding a bag of ice on their heads.
Madelene Sagstrom had a hot start of her own in women’s golf.
With a tough pitch to 4 feet for par on the final hole, the Swede kept bogeys off her card on a day of searing heat for a 5-under 66, giving her a one-shot lead over top-ranked Nelly Korda of the U.S. and Aditi Ashok of India.
ARTISTIC SWIMMING Romashina adds more gold to her collection
Russian star Svetlana Romashina claimed her record sixth Olympic gold in artistic swimming, teaming with Svetlana Kolesnichenko to win the duet.
The Russians were heavy favorites in a sport they have dominated for more than two decades. Their last Olympic loss in what was then known as synchronized swimming came at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Romashina had been tied with fellow Russians Anastasia Davydova and Natalia Ishchenko with five golds medals apiece.
The Russian pair received marks of 98.8000 for their free routine to finish with a score of 195.9079.