Samoilovs & Smedins end first season in style

Capture third gold medal in 2013

The 2013 season was memorable for Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins as the Latvians completed their first campaign together this week in FIVB beach volleyball history by winning their third gold medal at an event in South Africa.

With the African nation hosting its fourth of five men’s season-ending events, the 2013 Durban finale was an all-Latvian affair where Samoilovs and Smedins defeated Martins Plavins and Aleksandrs Solovejs 2-1 (15-21, 21-17, 15-10) in the 51-minute gold medal match on December 14.

Aleksandrs Samoilovs (left) hitting against Latvian rival Aleksandrs Solovejs in the 2013 Durban Open finale

A season earlier, Smedins and Plavins teamed together to capture the bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games where the Latvians defeated Dutchmen Reinder Nummerdor and Richard Schuil 2-1 (19-21, 21-19, 15-11) in the 55-minute third-place match.

Samoilovs and Smedins finished their inaugural season together in 2013 as the No. 2-ranked pair on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour as Brazilians Bruno Oscar Schmidt and Pedro Solberg topped the list by out-scoring the Latvians by 100 points (7,140 to 7040).

Bruno and Pedro’s margin of victory was secured two events earlier at a stop in Brazil where the pair captured the gold medal in São Paulo by defeating Americans Phil Dalhausser and Casey Jennings in the finals after besting Samoilovs and Smedins 2-1 (21-15, 20-22, 15-12) in the 53-minute semifinal match.

The two World Tour leaders met five times during the 2013 season with Bruno and Pedro winning three times starting with an elimination match win in China (Fuzhou) and a gold medal win in The Hague. The Latvians wins were semifinal victories in Argentina (Corrientes) and Durban.

With both teams competing in 13 events during the 2013 season and each pair claiming six medals, Samoilovs and Smedins posted a 61-14 match mark with other gold medal finishes at Corrientes and Moscow.  Bruno and Pedro finished with a 60-18 record highlighted by titles in The Hague and São Paulo.

Beach volleyball Olympians with birthdays this week are Australian Joshua Slack (turns 44 on Wednesday), Norwegian Kathrine Maaseide (turns 44 on Thursday), Russian Anastasia Barsuk (turns 33 on Thursday) and Italian Andrea Raffaelli (turns 51 on Saturday).

With both teams competing in 13 events during the 2013 season and each pair claiming six medals, Samoilovs and Smedins posted a 61-14 match mark with other gold medal finishes at Corrientes and Moscow.  Bruno and Pedro finished with a 60-18 record highlighted by titles in The Hague and São Paulo.

Beach volleyball Olympians with birthdays this week are Australian Joshua Slack (turns 44 on Wednesday), Norwegian Kathrine Maaseide (turns 44 on Thursday), Russian Anastasia Barsuk (turns 33 on Thursday) and Italian Andrea Raffaelli (turns 51 on Saturday).

Hitting at the at the Chaoyang Park Beach Volleyball Ground center court net is Joshua Slack of Australia

Maaseide, the younger sister of three-time Olympian Bjorn, and Susanne Glesnes placed 17th and ninth at the Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 Summer Games. Two of their Olympic pool play setbacks were to eventual medal-winning teams (2004 bronze winners Holly McPeak/Elaine Youngs of the United States and 2008 silver captors Jia Tian/Jie Wang of China).

Kathrine Maaseide from Norway reaches for the Mikasa

Barsuk, the wife of two-time Olympian Dmitri Barsouk, and Anna Vozakova were one of the last qualifiers for the London 2012 Olympics where the pair placed ninth and the Russians upset eventual fourth-place finishers of Xue Chen and Zhang Xi of China in pool play.

Anastasia Barsuk (left) stretches for Mikasa as Russian partner Evengia Ukolova follows the action

Raffaelli competed in the Sydney 2000 Olympics with Maurizio Pimponi where the pair placed 19th.

Here are the event winners on the FIVB World Tour during the December 13-19 time period.

Italian Andrea Raffaelli dives for Mikasa

December 14

In 2013, Samoilovs and Smedins won the FIVB Durban Open. It was the third of 13 FIVB World Tour wins for the team.

In 2013, Xia Xinyi and Xue Chen of China won the FIVB Durban Open. It was the second and last FIVB World Tour win for the team.

In 2014, Nummerdor and Christiaan Varenhorst won the FIVB Mangaung Open. It was the second of three FIVB World Tour wins for the team.

In 2014, Barbora Hermannova and Martina Williams of the Czech Republic won the FIVB Mangaung Open. It was the first and only FIVB World Tour win for the team.

Dutchmen Christiaan Varenhorst (left) and Reinder Nummerdor (second from left) with Barbora Hermannova (second from the left) and Martina Bonnerova Williams of the Czech Republic at the 2014 Mangaung Open

December 15

In 1996, Rogerio 'Para' Ferreira and Guilherme Marques of Brazil won the FIVB Durban Open. It was the first of seven FIVB World Tour wins for the team.

1997 FIVB world champions (left to right) Jackie Silva, Rogerio 'Para' Ferreira, Guilherme Marques and Sandra Pires of Brazil
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