U21 World Champs: Latvia’s Smits & Samoilovs one step closer

 Nanjing, China, July 14, 2017 – Latvia’s Kristaps Smits and Mihails Samoilovs take one step further at the 2017 FIVB Beach Volleyball U21 World Championships entering the quarterfinals by defeating Iran’s Alireza Aghajanighasab and Javad Firouzpourbandpei.

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On another steaming hot day in Nanjing, Smits and Samoilovs who is the younger brother of current world number six Aleksandrs Samoilovs, faced the Iranian team for a place in the quarterfinal.

A. Aghajani/Javad. F came fourth at the 2017 Asian U21 Beach Volleyball Championships and dominated the first set against Smits/Samoilovs M.
It was the opposite story in the second, with Smits/Samoilovs M taking advantage of their powerful swing and after a shaky start they quickly closed out the match, 2-1 (12-21, 21-11, 15-9).

“It was really hard, Iran played really well and good tactics, they played in the middle and then I was running to block and then they were playing to the back so it was really hard. For me it’s the first time to play in such temperature. I’m 2 metres tall and 85kg, it’s not enough, so in this heat, my body is not following my moves. But after the first set we calmed down a little bit and started playing more clever,” said Samoilovs.

Iran's Alireza Aghajanighasab (blue) and Latvia's Mihails Samoilovs

“We feel good to be in the quarterfinal but I feel a little bad because today is really hot and we’re playing in the hot part of the day. After each serve you have to give your maximum so it’s very tough,” said Smits.

The Latvian team claimed bronze at the 2016 U19 World Championships in Larnaka and now face Spain’s Jimenez Gutierrez and Alejandro Huerta Pastor in the quarterfinals. Smits/Samoilovs. M have already beaten the Spanish pair in their pool C match in Nanjing, 2-1 (21-17, 17-21, 20-18).
“In the quarterfinals we need to beat Spain. Yesterday we did it, it was difficult, but we will try to do it one more time,” said Samoilovs.

Mexico’s Josue Gaston Gaxiola Leyva has already stood on the U21 World Championships podium, taking silver at the 2016 edition in Lucerne. He joins a different partner for Nanjing, Jose Angel Cardenas Valdez and the pair faced Germany’s Julius Thole and Lukas Pfretzschner in the round of 16.

Mexico‘s Josue Gaston Gaxiola Leyva spikes and Germany's Lukas Pfretzschner
Thole is one of the most experienced players in the draw, playing alongside his usual partner Lorenz Schümann, the pair currently rank number 21 in the world, but it was the Mexican team who ran away with the match to earn their second win of the day, 2-0 (21-17, 21-11).

“We’re really happy, because we faced a really great opponent in Germany, so it’s a good victory for us,” said Gaxiola.

“We played our best volleyball when it mattered. The pool play helped us to reach this level because it was a hard pool play,” said Gaxiola.

“After last year, Mexico got second place and the goal for us is to get into the top five,” said Cardenas.

The Mexican team will face star lucky losers Austria’s Moritz Fabian Kindl and Marian Klaffinger in the quarterfinal after the Austrian’s toppled Dutch team Mees Blom and Ruben Penninga, 2-0 (21-14, 21-18).

Mees Blom from the Netherlands (left) and Marian Klaffinger from Austria
Two Brazilian teams, Adrielson Dos Santos Silva and Renato Andrew Lima de Carvalho and Gabriel Heilborn Gouveia and Rafael Jose Mendonca de Queiroz also gained their quarterfinal position along with Russians Aleksandr Kramarenko and Vasilii Ivanov and China’s Eraili Nu and Weiming Liu.

The quarters and semifinals will both be played on 15 July to decide the medal matches that will take place on 16 July.


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