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02/12/2018 20:00
Back from USA, Maryna continues Samoday family’s success story in Ljubljana
2018 CEV Beach Volleyball Satellite - Ljubljana Winter

Ljubljana, Slovenia, December 2, 2018. The Ukrainian duo Maryna Samoday and Diana Lunina finished the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour 1-Star Satellite held in Ljubljana in third place – after losing twice to the very same opponent. Panagiota Karagkouni and Vasiliki Arvaniti, who eventually won gold in the Slovenian capital, beat the top-seeded team from Ukraine in pool play and in the semis as well.

However, it was a happy end for the Ukrainian team anyway. “The Ljubljana 1-Star tournament has definitely been a success story for us. We finished on the podium for the first time in our career. I think we could have done even better, especially in the match against the Greek team. I am quite sure they will win the tournament in the end, because they are very experienced. I am glad we got the opportunity to play against them twice, so we could gather more experience, focusing on our future games,” said Samoday after the semi-final loss.

Ljubljana and the Samoday family have established quite a special bond this season, as Maryna’s elder brother Valeriy won his first ever World Tour gold in the summer edition of the tournament held at the spectacular venue of Congress Square, where Maryna finished 9th with her partner Lunina. Both Maryna and Valeriy, who is a two-time world champion in under-age (U19 and U21) categories, have been working with their father as a coach, so Beach Volleyball is quite a family business. 

Maryna Samoday’s elder brother Valeriy (left) and partner Taras Myskiv celebrating their gold-medal performance at the 1-Star event held in early August in Ljubljana

“I was really happy for my brother’s success, as we are very close to each other. I have always looked up to him and he has always been my superhero. I want to improve my game as much as he has done. My dream is one day to be standing on the same podium with him. And we are getting there, slowly but surely.” Valeriy Samoday and Taras Myskiv, who started their campaign at the Ljubljana 1-Star stop of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour in the qualification round and went into the Main Draw as the bottom 16th-seeded team, found themselves on top of the men’s podium at the end. There is no need to say that it was quite a celebration for Samoday, as it was also his international comeback after a break of four years due to two changes of nationality – from Ukraine to Russia via Kazakhstan.

“He came this year to Ljubljana to his first World Tour tournament after four years and won it right away. I am taking it a little bit slower, but I am going in the same direction for sure,” said the 26-year old defender, who is also very thankful for all the support she gets from her brother. “We often train together, before every game he writes me and gives me advice on how to approach my opponents and just helps me become a better player.”

Maryna teamed up with her new partner Diana Lunina in the summer of 2018. “So far we like it a lot, Lunina is a great blocker and therefore she is making my job as a defender easier, we communicate well and we see a lot of progress in our performance compared to the summer time. Right now we are definitely rising and I am excited for our future.”

Maryna Samoday (left) and partner Diana Lunina in action at the Ljubljana Winter 1-Star tournament where they won bronze.

The team formed with an obvious goal – reaching the next big thing in Beach Volleyball, the 2020 Olympics. “Our dream is definitely the 2020 Olympic tournament in Tokyo and we are ready to train as hard as possible until we reach our goal,” said Samoday, who gained the most of her international experience so far during the eight years she spent in the USA. After moving there in 2010 to study and play for Florida International University in Miami, she prolonged the stay till the spring of 2018, when she moved back to her home country, committed to chasing her dream career as a pro Beach Volleyball player.

“For me it was a great opportunity to live there, to learn English and to play against USA teams. They have a different mentality, a different approach to the game, as they focus a lot on physical preparation, whilst in Europe the focus is rather on technique, so I gained some great experience combining both aspects. I definitely got stronger during that time and I loved it.” After graduating from university, Samoday continued playing in the NVL, earning the Rookie of the Year title in 2016 with her American partner Kimberly Hildreth.  

While being thankful for the American experience, Samoday admits she still missed training in Europe with her father, so joining forces again in 2018 is something that suits her well. In 2019, the Samoday/Lunina duo will be hoping to play as many FIVB World Tour events as possible, starting with qualifications for The Hague 4-Star in the beginning of January.

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02/12/2018 20:45:00
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