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U.S. beach volleyball's Ross, Klineman capture Olympic gold in Tokyo

The win over Australia is the first time U.S. women have won Olympic gold in the event since the 2012 London Games.
Image: April Ross, Alix Klineman
Gold medalists USA's April Ross, left, and Alix Klineman pose with their medals after the victory ceremony of the women's beach volleyball event during the Tokyo Olympic Games at Shiokaze Park, on Aug. 6, 2021.Daniel Leal-Olivas / AFP - Getty Images

The A-Team is bringing Olympic gold in women's beach volleyball back to the United States.

Americans April Ross and Alix Klineman beat Australia in two sets at the Tokyo Games on Friday, marking the first time the U.S. has claimed gold since 2012, when the powerhouse pair Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor won their third in a row.

The U.S. team, known as the "A-Team" because of the duo's initials, started off strong in its win over Australia's Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy and held the lead in all but a few minutes.

Ross, a three-time Olympian, now has a complete medal set: she won bronze at the 2016 Rio Games and silver at the 2012 London Games.

"I couldn't have done this without Alix, obviously. She's amazing," she said. "But to get a gold medal finally just feels so amazing."

Klineman made her Olympic debut in Tokyo.

They were undefeated in their gold medal run.

On the road to Friday's final match, the U.S. team beat a German team that included 2016 gold medalist Laura Ludwig, as well as Switzerland.

Along the way, Ross and Klineman were cheered on by Mr. T, the actor famous for his role as the gold chain- wearing strongman B.A. Baracus in the 1980s television series that shares a name with the athletes' nickname.

"I Pity the Competition," the actor tweeted Tuesday.

The U.S. team won 21-15 win in the first set and appeared in control throughout. The score was 21-16 in the second, but Australia came within three points at one moment, threatening a possible third set.

It was a return to the top Olympic pedestal for U.S. women in beach volleyball.

Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor won the gold in three straight Olympics — in 2004 in Athens, 2008 in Beijing, and in 2012 in London.

May-Treanor retired after the 2012 Games. Walsh Jennings and Ross teamed up for Rio, where they won bronze.

Earlier Friday in Tokyo, Switzerland's Anouk Verge-Depre and Joana Heidrich beat Latvia in two sets to win the bronze.

The men's bronze and final matches will be Saturday in Tokyo, but the U.S. did not advance.