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2018-08-16 14:23:00 CEST

Russians prevail on ‘early elimination’ match

Stoyanovskiy and Velichko survived against Latvians Samoilovs and Smedins

Velichko serves in the match against the LatviansVelichko serves in the match against the Latvians

It was just the third pool play match for both teams in the Beach Volleyball FIVB World Tour Finals presented by Vodafone, but with Russia’s Oleg Stoyanovskiy/Igor Velichko and Latvia’s Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins entering the game with back-to-back setbacks, it felt like elimination round.

After hard-fought 47 minutes, better for the Russians, who earned their first victory at the Rothenbaum, a three-setter (21-18, 19-21, 15-13), to remain alive in the tournament and get revenge for their semifinal loss to Samoilovs and Smedins last week in Moscow’s semifinals. The Latvians, on the other hand, are out of contention for a spot in the elimination round.

“We knew we were in a tough situation, but we tried not to think about it,” Stoyanovskiy commented after their first victory in Hamburg. “The goal was to play the best we could and win the game. I think we had less pressure today. After losing two, we felt less pressure than in the first two matches and that made us play calmer, which helped.”

With just one win in three matches, the Russians will now need to defeat the Rio 2016 Olympics silver medalists, Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo of Italy, on Friday to advance to the elimination round.

“We’re not in our best shape here after playing last week in Moscow and it was great to beat a tough Latvian team,” the 21-year-old blocker added. “And now we have another important match against the Italians, who are another tough team. We know we’ll need to play our best and for that we’ll need to improve our game.”

For the Latvians, the setback buried their last chances of making out of pool play in their second World Tour Finals appearance. They will still play Germans Julius Thole and Clemens Wickler on Thursday, but the result will not change their situation in the tournament.

“That’s how it is,” Smedins reflected. “We couldn’t play at our best and when that happens in this tournament you won’t win games. I’m physically and emotionally tired, so I just want to take some days off and relax.”

Rally after rally! Watch the #HamburgFinals live on BeachStream now [link in bio 🏐] @beachteam_thole_wickler @paolo_nicolai @danieledlupo @vodafone_de @hamburg_de @redbullgermany

220 Likes, 1 Comments - Beach Volleyball Major Series (@beachmajorseries) on Instagram: "Rally after rally! Watch the #HamburgFinals live on BeachStream now [link in bio 🏐]..."

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