Latvian pair claims third Grand Slam medal of the season in Rome
News from the FIVB
Rome, Italy, June 23, 2013. Europe’s most consistent pair of the season so far, Latvia’s Janis Smedins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs (pictured), settled for silver at the FIVB Grand Slam in Rome to follow up on last week’s second place in The Hague and on the gold medal they claimed some weeks ago in Corrientes, Argentina.
The US pair consisting of Sean Rosenthal and Phil Dalhausser beat the Latvians 21-19, 21-18 to earn Rosenthal his second consecutive gold medal in Rome, a year after he and Jacob Gibb had topped the podium. “I was struggling to side-out this whole week, but Phil picked me up and kept me in the game,” Rosenthal said. “That’s a great team; they’ve been in two straight finals. We got a good start and we carried that on in the second set.” Rosenthal and Dalhausser only teamed up at the start of the year and while they won the season opening Fuzhou Open, they had not been able to find their way back to the podium in subsequent tournaments. With Samoilovs and Smedins having enjoyed a gold and silver on the World Tour this year, they made life difficult, but the combination of Dalhausser’s prowess at the net and Rosenthal’s athleticism behind was enough to send them into the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in a week’s time in confident mood. “For us as a team it is important,” Rosenthal added. “We came off 17th last week, to come back to a place where we’ve both had success and to come through. I don’t think we’ve played our best, I don’t think we’ve even been close, but we’ve kept winning games and we’ve stayed close together. It’s big before the World Champs. We’re the first team to have two wins and whatever team won this one was going to be the first to two wins and we want to keep building momentum and keep on winning”.
While Smedins and Samoilovs were unable to add to the Corrientes Grand Slam gold that they won earlier in their first year together as a team, the silver medals are the second they have won in two weeks, having finished second at The Hague Grand Slam. Now they have seven days to recuperate from their endeavors at the Rome Grand Slam, before the World Championships begin on July 1 in Stare Jablonki, Poland. “We have one tournament in Latvia, it will be our first tournament in two years in Latvia,” Samoilovs said. “Then we go to Poland and a lot of Latvian fans will come. I know there are big buses coming. We need to relax a bit now and start our preparations”.
Germany’s Karla Borger and Britta Büthe were Europe’s best pair in the women’s tournament as they finished fourth there at Foro Italico losing the bronze medal match to Brazil’s Lili/Seixas. Gold went to another Brazilian pair, Talita Antunes and Taiana Lima, who followed up on last week’s win in The Hague edging 2012 Olympic silver medalists Jennifer Kessy and April Ross (USA) in the final.
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