Latvian pairs lead way at inaugural FIVB Jurmala

 Jurmala, Latvia, August 21, 2019 – Local teams lead the way in Latvia’s inaugural FIVB tournament, the men-only USD 75,000 Jurmala event. Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins and Martins Plavins/Edgars Tocs top the entry list of the 3-Star event running from August 22 – 25.

Samoilovs/Smedins will be comfortable in Jurmala following successful results at the 2016 CEV Jurmala Masters winning gold, and silver at the 2017 CEV European Beach Volleyball Championships. The pair are back to winning form, storming to victory last week at the Moscow 4-Star defending their 2018 title with some impressive performances.

They first produced the upset of the tournament defeating home favourites and newly crowned world champions Viacheslav Krasilnikov & Oleg Stoyanovskiy before beating reigning Olympic champion Alison Cerutti and his partner Alvaro Morais Filho in the gold medal match.

Janis Smedins on the way to victory at the Moscow 4-Star

“We were really happy to have our first medal after a year - we got the gold last year in Moscow. This year we have been struggling a lot with our game and we had six or seven tournaments in the elimination rounds, but losing in the tie-break all the time and couldn’t manage to win the last points of the game. In Moscow it was different, the draw was pretty tough for us, we beat two Russian teams and the Spanish team Herrera/Gavira, almost the best teams in the draw,” said Smedins.

“This is the first time the FIVB tournament has been here, but we have played a lot of CEV tournaments, and European Championships where we came second here at home. I think the other guys from outside Europe will come and see where Latvia is. Ten years ago when we started to play they didn’t know where Latvia is, if we have beach or not and now they can come and enjoy the tournament.

“Of course we want to stay until the last day of the tournament, but after the win, the next week is very tough and we will need to improve ourselves a lot,” said Smedins.

Plavins/Tocs enter Jurmala as top seeds. The pair currently sit 16th in the world and have posted consistent results in their two years as a team. They reached ninth place in the Hamburg World Championships this summer and took bronze at the Espinho 4-Star in July.

Plavins in action at the Espinho 4-Star against Chile’s Grimalt’s

The USA fields three teams in Jurmala, with Stafford Slick/William Allen as number three seeds. The team has won two FIVB 3-Star bronze medals this year in Sydney and Edmonton and also reached ninth at the Hamburg World Championships.

Casey Patterson/Chase Budinger will also feature in Jurmala. Patterson and Budinger joined forces at the beginning of the year and while Patterson is no stranger to the FIVB podium, the pair will be hungry for their first medal as a team.

USA's Casey Patterson and Chase Budinger in action at the Edmonton 3-Star

Miles Evans/William Kolinske are the third USA team in Jurmala with the pair taking two FIVB World Tour medals since joining forces in 2017.

Iranian team Bahman Salemiinjehboroun/Arash Vakili arrive in Latvia as number four seeds. The pair won FIVB 1-Star gold and silver at their home events in Bandar Torkamen and Bandar Anzali last year, won silver in the 2018 Asian Championships and competed in the Hamburg World Championships last month.

Edmonton gold medallists Nico Beeler/Marco Krattiger from Switzerland will be among the challenging European teams. As will Germany’s Philipp Arne Bergmann/Yannick Harms and Jonathan Erdmann/Sven Winter and Belgium’s Dries Koekelkoren/Tom van Walle.

Mihails Samoilovs, younger brother of Aleksandrs Samoilovs is also in Jurmala’s main draw playing with Aleksandrs Solovejs. Mihails Samoilovs won the 2018 CEV U22 European Championship in Jurmala with former partner Kristaps Smits.

The qualification round starts off the action with Thai team Nuttanon Inkiew/Sedtawat Padsawud in the top spot. The pair won two FIVB World Tour medals in 2018, gold in Satun and bronze in Langkawi.

Haralds Regza (pictured) and Toms Smedins earned bronze at the Budapest 1-Star

Two more Latvian teams will also be fighting for a main draw position including Smedins older brother, Toms Smedins. The Smedins brothers played as a team as juniors, before taking separate partners in 2008. Toms Smedins now plays alongside Haralds Regza and the team has won three FIVB one-star medals since last year and are regulars in the national tournaments in Jurmala.

Rudolfs Stankevics/Arturs Rinkevics will also enter with the home advantage and the hope of gaining some valuable experience in the 18-year-olds first FIVB tournament.

Eight teams will progress to the main draw which will be played in a 32-team modified pool play with 24 teams advancing to single elimination. As a 3-Star event, the winning team will receive USD 10,000 and 600 ranking points which will count towards Olympic ranking for qualification into the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.


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