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18/08/2013 09:00
Latvian boys and girls top final tables in Zagreb
CEV Youth Beach Volleyball Continental Cup - Zonal Phase

Zagreb, Croatia, August 17, 2013. Latvia’s boys and girls topped the charts of the Zonal Phase tournament – Pool F held on Saturday at Eko Park Krašograd for the inaugural the CEV Youth Beach Volleyball Continental Cup. The girls from Belarus and boys of Finland did also qualify for the final stage of the competition coming up next year and where the top six teams will eventually get the right to compete at the Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China.
Home heroes Krešimir Karaula and Marko Sedlaček started out by claiming their opening game with Finland’s Vili Manninen/Miro Määttänen 2:1 (21-16, 12-21, and 15-12) while Latvia’s Raimonds Linins and Karlis Kaulins easily downed Belarus’ Ilya Lapato/Ilya Burau in straight sets (21-16, 21-17). Linins/Kaulins then booked first place in the pool and a ticket to the finals as they beat Karaula/Sedlaček 21-14, 21-15. The Finns Manninen/Määttänen got back on track as they swept their Belarusian opponents in straight sets and then went for second place as they got their revenge from Karaula/Sedlaček with a 21-16, 21-17 win in 31 minutes. With this result Finland did qualify for the finals while Croatia had to be content with third place.  

Latvia’s girls Anastasija Kravcenoka and Tina Graudina also dominated the scene in Zagreb but they had to fight hard to claim their opening game with Valeryia Babenka/Viktoryia Shalayeuskaya of Belarus (22-24, 21-14, and 15-12). Finland’s Ida Sinisalo/Niina Ahtiainen routed home girls Božena Čulo and Sara Radanovic in straight sets (21-12, 21-13) to play Latvia for first place in the group. Kravcenoka/Graudina needed once more three sets but could stand the competition brought by the Finns (21-16, 17-21, and 15-12) to seize first place in the pool as well as a ticket to the final.   
Belarus Babenka/Shalayeuskaya had fought their way back besting Croatia’s Čulo/Radanovic in straight sets (21-10, 21-11) and eventually claimed the second berth at stake for the Continental Cup finals as they powered past Sinisalo/Ahtiainen (21-16, 29-27) in the last fixture of the day.  

“This is a real success for us and we are satisfied with the results we have achieved in this tournament” said Belarusian coach Sergey Danilov. “It was a good test to see where we stand and we are happy that next year we will be playing for making it to the Youth Olympics in China” he added.    

“It was a very nice tournament and Krašograd is the right place where to host that kind of events” commented Latvian mentor Maris Vensbergs. “We are evidently happy with the results of our teams and now we have some more time to work hard and prepare for the next phase. Beach Volleyball is becoming quite a big thing in Latvia and I hope we will be among the six nations that next year will represent Europe at the Youth Olympics in China” he concluded.  

The tournament came to a close with a ceremony where all participants received special diplomas provided by CEV and chocolate gifts presented by the Kraš Company, the owner of the venue where these young players celebrated their debut on the international stage.

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