4 to Watch: April Ross and Alix Klineman Have a Shot at Beach Volleyball Gold

The A-Team from Costa Mesa and Manhattan Beach is undefeated at the Tokyo Olympics.

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Beach volleyball's A-Team has earned an A+ so far in Tokyo.

April Ross and Alix Klineman secured the opportunity to play for the gold medal after winning against Switzerland in a semifinal Wednesday, going 21-12 in the first set and winning 21-11 in the second.

The pair rolled through the preliminary rounds with a record of 3-0 before defeating Cuba and Germany in elimination play.

The SoCal pair is making its first Olympic appearance together.

The U.S. women's water polo team also secured a chance at gold with a semifinal win. In karate, Sakura Kokumai became the first member of Team USA to compete in the new Olympic sport.

Scroll down for live video links and four storylines to watch on Day 13 of the Tokyo Olympics.

Team USA Beach Volleyball pair April Ross and Alix Klineman advance to the semifinals after defeating Germany two sets to none.

The A-Team Needs One Last Win for the Gold

In their first Olympic appearance together, April Ross and Alix Klineman have steamrolled into the finals with an unblemished record. 

They earned a shot at gold Wednesday, with a win over the experienced team of Anouk Vergé-Dépre and Joana Heidrich from Switzerland. The semifinal match ended with the A-Team going 21-12 in the first set and winning 21-11 in the second.

The gold medal match is set for Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. PT.

Ross, of Costa Mesa, and Klineman, of Manhattan Beach, defeated Germany 21-19, 21-19 in the quarterfinal

Ross is a three-time Olympian who has already won silver and bronze. She paired with first-timer Klineman after parting ways with beach volleyball icon Kerri Walsh Jennings after they won bronze in Rio. 

The two have been playing together for three years and won silver at the 2019 World Championships.

If Team USA wants to win its fourth straight Olympic basketball gold medal, they will need to go through Australia and then either Luka Doncic and Slovenia or Rudy Gobert and France.

U.S. Men Defeat Australia in Basketball Semifinals

Team USA is now just one win away from a men’s basketball gold medal, after passing the test against Australia in a semifinal contest at 9:05 p.m. PT on Wednesday.

With a final score of 97-78 against Australia, the U.S. men's team has a chance at its fourth straight Olympic gold.

After a worrying opening loss to France, the U.S. men have strung together three straight wins over Iran, the Czech Republic and Spain. Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard and Jayson Tatum are among the standouts for the U.S. through four games, with Durant scoring a team-high 29 points in a quarterfinal win over Spain on Tuesday.

Australia was unbeaten coming into the semifinal contest. Patty Mills, Joe Ingles and Co. went 3-0 in group play before handing Argentina a lopsided, 38-point quarterfinal loss on Tuesday. Australia is seeking its first ever Olympic men’s basketball medal.

The winner of Team USA will play France, the winner of the Slovenia-France game, for the gold medal on Friday, Aug. 6. Slovenia and Australia will play for bronze on Saturday, Aug. 7.

Sakura Kokumai is the first USA Karate athlete in Olympic history. As a Japanese-American, she takes great pride in representing the United States at the Tokyo Olympics, but she’s also been the victim of discrimination near her home in Orange. In this Life Connected Olympic Edition feature, Kathy Vara shares how Sakura continues to move forward on her unique journey to Tokyo.

Southern California's Sakura Kokumai Made Olympic History, Didn't Reach Podium

Sakura Kokumai became the first American to compete in karate when the sport made its debut at the Olympics. 

After making it through the elimination round to qualify, Kokumai lost to Italy's bronze-medal-winning Viviana Bottaro during Bronze Medal Bout 2.

Spain's Sandra Sánchez took the gold, and host country Japan's Kiyou Shimizu took silver.

28-year-old Kokumai, who lives in Southern California, first took up karate at age 7 when here family was living in Hawaii. She lived in both Hawaii and Japan growing up and won her first world championships medal in 2012.

Here are five things to know about karate champion, Sakura Kokumai.

“Karate has been a part of my life for a long time now,” she told TeamUSA.org in September. “It may be new to the Olympics, but there are so many karate practitioners around the world, and I think that people who practice karate have a relationship with the sport that’s very personal. I’m hoping the Olympics will allow people to see what we do and why we do what we do.”

The seven-time national champion at the senior level was the lone American among 40 athletes competing in karate in Tokyo. 

The U.S. women’s water polo team advanced on to the semifinals following a decisive 16-5 win over Canada.

Team USA Defeats ROC in Women’s Water Polo Semifinal

The U.S. women’s water polo team faced the Russian Olympic Committee in a battle of Group B foes during a semifinal matchup at 11:30 p.m. PT on Wednesday, and emerged victorious.

A late surge gave the US a 15-11 victory, when Aria Fischer scored a goal in the last five minutes that pushed Team USA ahead with a score of 12-11. Alys Williams and Madeline Musselman then extended the lead by three points.

Team USA, winners of two straight Olympic gold medals, suffered a rare loss in group play against Hungary. Aside from that loss, the Americans have posted three double-digit wins along with a five-point win. One of those double-digit victories came against ROC in the final game of round-robin play, with the U.S. coming out on top 18-5.

Maggie Steffens has led a high-powered U.S. attack in Tokyo. Steffens and Stephania Haralabidis both scored four points in the win over ROC, while five Americans scored multiple goals in a 16-5 quarterfinal win over Canada. Meanwhile, Ashleigh Johnson has also been a stalwart in net for Team USA.

The SoCal women's water polo delegation includes Aria Fischer (Laguna Beach), Makenzie Fischer (Laguna Beach), Rachel Fattal (Seal Beach), Kaleigh Gilchrist (Newport Beach), Paige Hauschild (USC), Stephania Haralabidis (Corona del Mar), Ashleigh Johnson (Seal Beach), Amanda Longan (Moorpark), Maddie Musselman (Newport Beach), Maggie Steffens (Long Beach) and Alys Williams (Huntington Beach).

Team USA will battle Spain, the winner of the Spain-Hungary semifinal, for a gold medal on Saturday.

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