USA’s April Ross and Alix Klineman dethroned reigning Olympic champion Laura Ludwig's team to snatch the first semifinal spot at the Tokyo 2020 women’s beach volleyball tournament. On Thursday, the Americans will go against Switzerland’s Anouk Verge-Depre and Joana Heidrich in one of the duels for a place in Friday’s final at Shiokaze Park.

The first quarterfinal of the day was a huge battle between two very strong teams, which was decided in the ends of the sets. The lead went back and forth between April and Alix and their German opponents Laura Ludwig and Margareta Kozuch, but in the money time serving errors on the European pair’s side gifted the US team the set points, which they didn’t fail to convert to a 2-0 (21-19, 21-19) victory.

“That’s a super strong German team and we have so much respect for them!” April told Volleyball World. “It was about trusting our abilities as a team and what we do. We did a lot of preparation and kind of stuck with what we wanted to do. We trusted ourselves and each other and just kept our belief and positivity high.”

Heidrich and Verge-Depre feel amazing as Switzerland’s first Olympic semifinalists

Heidrich and Verge-Depre feel amazing as Switzerland’s first Olympic semifinalists

Verge-Depre and Heidrich dominated the second half of the first set of their quarterfinal against Brazil’s Ana Patricia Ramos and Rebecca Cavalcanti to reach a quadruple set point. The Brazilians denied them the first three opportunities to close the set, but on the fourth one Verge-Depre killed it for the win. In the second set, Ana Patricia and Rebecca took control and although the Swiss were trailing close behind the match went to three. And again, Verge-Depre and Heidrich reached a quadruple match point and, after a Brazilian serving error on the third opportunity, they celebrated with a 2-1 (21-19, 18-21, 15-12) victory to write history for Switzerland as their country’s first Olympic semifinalists in beach volleyball.

“It feels amazing! Crazy! I can’t really find the right words right now, but the feeling is amazing!” exclaimed Heidrich after the win. “It was a big fight. It was really hot. It was not easy, but I think we did a great job as a team. We were fighting for every point, we never gave up, even when we didn’t play our best, and in the end we showed that we are here.”

“In 2016, I already had a game against April. We lost it very closely in the third set, so we’ll give everything to change that result in our favour. We just look forward to playing for the medals, but first, we’ll enjoy this moment of qualifying for the semifinals and then, back to focus,” Verge-Depre added.

The other two quarterfinals, between Latvia’s Tina Graudina and Anastasija Kravcenoka and Canada’s Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson and between Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes of Canada and Mariafe Artacho and Taliqua Clancy of Australia, are set to be played on Tuesday evening, at 21:00 and 22:00 local time, respectively.