Alix Klineman and April Ross dominated the Tokyo Olympics, cruising to beach volleyball gold in commanding fashion. The partners, however, have an unlikely origin story, making their Olympic run even more impressive.

Before Ross ever entered Klineman’s life, the 31-year-old had to first make the switch from indoor volleyball to beach volleyball. Klineman had played indoor volleyball in high school, at Standford, professionally and for Team USA until 2017.

It was a slow transition, at first, to beach, with Klineman describing her first beach volleyball tournament as humbling.

“I think I got like a seventh my first tournament, but it was such bad volleyball,” Klineman tells Kelley O’Hara on the Just Women’s Sports podcast.

The gold medalist says at first, she dove into the sport, unafraid to make mistakes, but her trajectory completely changed after a chance meeting with Ross at the music festival Stagecoach.

“We were at Stagecoach, and like I said, we had some mutual friends. And we had both had a few drinks, and at one point she comes up to me, and her and Kerri [Walsh Jennings] had just broken up, and so she was like, ‘hey you know I see you are playing beach volleyball — I am going to need a partner for Tokyo.’”

Klineman was gobsmacked at first, thinking, “I suck at beach volleyball right now.”

She accepted Ross’s proposal anyway, though Ross quickly made an amendment to her offer, telling Klineman, “you need to get better first.”

The following day, Klineman was in disbelief, wondering, “did I just have too many drinks.” Klineman did, however, remember the night correctly, and she used Ross’s interest as motivation to improve.

“It was a huge risk for her to take me as a partner,” said Klineman, who had zero points on the AVP circuit, meaning the duo would have to qualify for their first tournaments together through risky single-elimination games.

The gamble, however, paid off, and the rest is history. The cherry on top? Klineman said Stagecoach caught wind of her and Ross’s meet volleyball cute and have since reached out to “take care of” the teammates for the upcoming summer.

Hear more about Klineman’s path to gold on the Just Women’s Sports Podcast here.

The A-Team continues to win.

After winning gold at the Tokyo Olympics earlier this month, April Ross and Alix Klineman are champions in the AVP once more. The partners won the Manhattan Beach Open on Sunday, defeating Eily Day and Betsi Flint in straight sets.

Ross and Klineman went 4-0 in the tournament. Ross is now a four-time Manhattan Beach champion, having also won it in 2014, 2015 and 2018.

Following the win, the two admitted they were still recovering from the Olympics.

“We were really exhausted,” Ross told VolleyballMag. “It hit me harder in the finals how special this is so, ‘Let’s see how we do.’

“The adrenaline went from 10 to 100.”

“Honestly, I’m not sure what my expectations for this week were,” Klineman said. “It’s been such a roller coaster winning gold in Tokyo, and we didn’t feel super sharp coming into this weekend. The crowd was amazing, and we took it point by point and it feels amazing to get our names on the pier again.”

Alix Klineman and April Ross dominated Wednesday’s beach volleyball semifinal, downing Switzerland in straight sets.

The commanding 21–12, 21–11 win earned Klineman and Ross a spot in the gold-medal match.

Ross credited the duo’s focused preparation for their stellar semifinal performance.

“I think we were just fired up,” she said afterward.

Klineman and Ross will face Australia on Thursday at 10:30 pm ET for Olympic gold. Ross, who already has silver and bronze medals from the 2012 and 2016 Games, will look to add gold to her collection and complete the Olympic trifecta.

April Ross and Alix Klineman are on to the beach volleyball semifinals in Tokyo.

The duo sent defending Olympic champion Laura Ludwig and partner Maggie Kozuch home in straight sets on Tuesday in the quarterfinals, winning by scores of 21-19, 21-19.

The win for Ross means that she is the last woman with an Olympic medal left in the beach volleyball pool.

In 2012, she won silver with partner Jennifer Kessy. In 2016, won bronze with Kerri Walsh Jennings.

A win against Switzerland’s Joana Heidrich and Anouk Verge-Depre on Thursday would automatically get both Ross and Klineman at least a silver medal, with the chance to win gold.

April Ross and Alix Klineman kicked off their quest for beach volleyball gold with a commanding showing against China.

The American duo defeated Xue Chen and Wang Xinxin in straight sets, winning the first set 21-17 and the second 21-19.

Sunday’s victory marks Klineman’s first-ever Olympic appearance.

“It just feels so good to get a win under our belt,” said Klineman after her Olympic debut.

Tokyo is Ross’ third Summer Games, having won silver in London and bronze in Rio.

Ross and Klineman will continue their podium run when they face Spain on Tuesday.