April Ross is going to play for her third Olympic medal in beach volleyball.
On Thursday morning, as the sand baked in the sun and a speckling of spectators looked for patches of shade, the American pair of Ross and Alix Klineman defeated Anouk Vergé-Dépré and Joana Heidrich of Switzerland in two sets, 21-12, 21-11, to advance to the gold medal game.
Ross won a silver medal at the 2012 Games in London with her partner Jen Kessy, and a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Games with Kerri Walsh Jennings.
Now with Klineman, an indoor volleyball player who made the transition to beach volleyball in 2017, Ross is looking to add an elusive gold medal to her collection.
They expected their semifinal match to be a difficult one. Vergé-Dépré and Heidrich had advanced to the semifinals with an impressive run, defeating Brazil, 21-19, 18-21, 15-12, on Tuesday.
When asked if going for any Olympic medal was getting to be old news, Ross laughed.
“No!” she said emphatically. “We are going to prepare as hard as we can and recover as hard as we can for tomorrow.”
That rest will have to come quickly. The final will be played in the midday Tokyo sun. But Ross and Klineman do not seem worried. They are getting used to the heat, they said, and are mentally prepared for the sweltering conditions expected during the final.
They will face the Australians Artacho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy, who hope to follow in the footsteps of Natalie Cook and Kerri Pottharst, the last Australian duo to win an Olympic medal in the sport, a gold in 2000.
The gold medal game is set for 11:30 a.m. on Friday in Tokyo, 10:30 p.m. Eastern on Thursday.