International Volleyball

The Last Dance of April Ross and Alix Klineman

The Last Dance of April Ross and Alix Klineman

HERMOSA BEACH, California — There have been a number of moments that suggested to April Ross and Alix Klineman that this season would be unlike any other in their professional volleyball careers, namely the babies they’ve given birth to and fed and raised these past eight months for Ross and a little more than a year for Klineman.

Superhuman though they sometimes seem to be, one doesn’t simply take the elevator back to the mountaintop before their son can walk.

But no moment made it quite so real as when Ross sat down for breakfast prior to their first match at AVP Huntington beach and dug not into a bowl of oatmeal or fruit or eggs or any other nutritionist-approved meal, but a bag of McDonald’s.

“I was like ‘Oh boy,’” Klineman said, laughing.

“There were a lot of comments about that,” Ross said on SANDCAST: Beach Volleyball with Tri Bourne and Travis Mewhirter. “But is it really that shocking?”

Depends on whom you ask.

Ask anyone, for example, who has followed Ross’ career, with her three Olympic medals and 46 AVP wins and treasure trove of FIVB medals and cowbells and swords and all manner of other trophies and shock may be the standard response. Ask any mother, on the other hand, who understands the demanding nature of parenting and the time and dedication required to regain the athletic form and shape that once allowed Ross to perform at such an elite level for two decades — not to mention a new, constantly interrupted sleep schedule that isn’t exactly ideal to recovery and peak athletic performance — and there would be an empathetic nod, maybe a laugh of ‘I’ve been there too’ understanding, but certainly no shock.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Ross said of AVP Huntington, her first tournament back since becoming a mother to her son. “Physically, I was so out of shape that I was hoping I can get in good enough shape to compete with these teams at this point. I felt like I barely made it and did OK in Huntington. It’s hard because I know I could play so much better than I played but at the same time I need to be very accepting and happy about being able to play. There’s a fine line.”

Klineman gets it. It’s exactly how she felt when she competed in last fall’s Paris Elite16 and World Championships with Hailey Harward. It was as if the ghost of Alix Klineman were on court, not the version who won a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games two…

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