Klineman’s gold makes her fifth Manhattan Beach Olympic beach volleyball medalist [UPDATED]

Alix Klineman prepares to serve at the 2018 Hermosa Beach Open, which she and partner April Ross won. Last week they won Olympic gold in Tokyo Photo by Brad Jacobson

Precious medals forged in  soft Manhattan Beach sand

by Paul Teetor

If Manhattan Beach (Pop. 35,135) were a country,  its Olympic beach volleyball medal count, alone,  would rank it 141st out of 2006 countries that have competed in the Olympics. And other countries had a 100 year head start. The modern Olympics began in 1896. Beach volleyball became an Olympic sport in 1996.

Mike Dodd’s wide ranging volleyball career has included Olympic silver medalist, volleyball commissioner, broadcast commentator and coach. Photo by Bo Bridges (BoBridges.com)

That year Mira Costa alumnus Mike Dodd and partner Mike Whitmarsh brought home silver from the all- U.S. finals in Athens. Karch Kirally and Kent Steffes took home gold. (Kiraly won his third Olympic volleyball gold medal last week in Tokyo, as coach of the women’s indoor volleyball team.)

Celebrating Mira Costa’ fifth consecutive INVL championship are (back row, left to right) Maddie Micheletti, Olivia Bakos, Rio Frohoff, Piper Monk-Heidrich, Coach Eric Fonoimoana, (front row kneeling) Alexia Inman and Sunny Villapando. All photos by Roland Villapando

In 2000, in Sydney, Australia, Mira Costa alumnus Eric Fonoimoana won gold with partner Dain Blanton.

In 2004, in Athens,  Mira Costa alumna Holly McPeak won bronze, with partner Elaine Youngs. 

Kerri Walsh goes up against Holly McPeak in the finals of 2003 Hermosa Beach Open. The following year Walsh and partner Misty May won gold and McPeak and partner Elaine Youngs won bronze at the Athens Olympics. Photo Ray Vidal

The gold medal, that year,  went to Kerry Walsh-Jennings, a Northern California native who had moved to Manhattan Beach. She and partner Misty May-Treanor also won gold in 2008 in Beijing, and a third consecutive gold medal, in London in 2013. In Rio de Janeiro, in 2016, Walsh-Jennings won her fourth Olympic medal, a bronze, playing with April Ross.

Last week in Tokyo, Alix Klineman, another Mira Costa alumna (2007), became Manhattan Beach’s fifth beach volleyball medalist, and its third gold medalist.

Her gold medal was the culmination of a three-year partnership with April Ross, who had won silver in London, in 2012 with Jennifer Kessey, in addition to her bronze with Walsh-Jennings.

The usually stoic Klineman allowed her emotions to spill over in front of a global audience as she sobbed visibly and wiped away tears of joy.

The A-team beat Australia’s Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar 21-15, 21-16 in a rout that capped their undefeated march through the Olympic field.

Klineman made the key play in the second set after the Australians had mounted a mini-comeback,  to 16-13, and appeared to have the momentum. Ross dove for a beautiful dig to set up Klineman for one of her patented cross-court kill shots that landed cleanly in the sand just inside the sideline.

From there it was a quick ride to the finish line.

For Klineman, it was a full expression of the world-class talent she had displayed all the way back in high school.

Next week, Ross will play at the AVP tournament in Atlanta with Kelley Kolinske. Klineman and Ross are expected to reunite at the Manhattan Beach Open, on the weekend of August 20.

Contact: teetor.paul@gmail.com. Follow @paulteetor. ER 


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