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22/09/2019 14:00
Latvia and Spain celebrate women’s berths for Tokyo 2020
News from the FIVB

Haiyang, China, September 22, 2019. Reigning European champions Tina Graudina and Anastasija Kravcenoka capped a successful two days of Beach Volleyball, as the pair became the first women’s team to qualify Latvia for the Olympics by defeating Barbora Hermannova and Marketa Slukova of the Czech Republic. Spain’s Elsa Baquerizo and Liliana Fernandez Steiner secured the other spot at stake at the Olympic qualifying event held in Haiyang, China.

On Saturday, Martins Plavins/Edgars Tocs and Paolo Nicolai/Daniele Lupo had secured an Olympic spot in the men’s competition for Latvia and Italy, respectively. The event in Haiyang could not have gone any better for Europe, with teams from the ‘Old Continent’ taking four Olympic tickets out of four available in China.

Playing in the second of two finals Sunday on Golden Beach at the FIVB Tokyo Beach Volleyball Olympic Qualification tournament, Graudina and Kravcenoka rallied from a 12-7 deficit in the third-set to post a 2-1 (21-17, 15-21, 17-15) victory in 54 minutes over Hermannova and Slukova.

In the first women’s final, Elsa Baquerizo and Liliana Fernandez gained an Olympic berth for Spain’s women after they posted a 2-1 (18-21, 21-17, 15-10) win in 59 minutes over Sandra Ittlinger and Chantal Laboureur of Germany.

“This is such an emotional moment for us,” said the 22-year-old Kravcenoka. “We hung together despite being down 7-12 in the deciding set. Obviously, this ranks as our greatest moment as Beach Volleyball players.”

The newly crowned European champions after winning the title last month in Moscow, Graudina and Kravcenoka won four of seven pool matches to advance to Sunday’s finals where the Latvians played Hermannova and Slukova for the first time at a FIVB-sanctioned event. “You always play to win,” said Graudina, who was the No. 1 player on the American collegiate circuit after leading the University of Southern California to a second-place finish at the national championships in early May.

“Winning the European Championship was special and unexpected,” Graudina added, “but this win today ranks as a great achievement as we become the first women’s team from our country to qualify for the Beach Volleyball competition at the Olympics. I am so much proud of Anastasija as her serving got us back to even (12-12) in the third set.  And yes, like the European Championship, this win was also unexpected.”

Elsa Baquerizo and Liliana Fernandez Steiner celebrate their qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

With their 2-1 (18-21, 21-17, 15-10) win in 59 minutes, Elsa and Liliana avenged a setback to the Germans Thursday during the pool play phase of the competition on Golden Beach were Ittlinger and Laboureur posted a 2-0 (23-21, 21-19) victory in 43 minutes.

When asked if the win was their most memorable in their 120 FIVB events together, the 32-year-old Elsa said, “Yes!  It has been a long season with a lot of frustrations, especially since we reached the quarterfinals several times (four to be exact) and never advanced to the medal rounds.”

“The wind was a factor for our slow start in the first set,” said the 32-year-old Liliana, who placed ninth with Elsa at both the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games. “It was frustrating us, and we finally settled now at the end of the first set and started handling the windy conditions better.”

Liliana, who missed the 2017 season due to childbirth, said qualifying for Tokyo this week was “unexpected.  There were many matches to play again very tough teams.  We were among the best on the provisional list for Tokyo but securing the berth to next summer’s Olympics is great.  What a relief and we can relax now for a few months before getting ready for Tokyo.”

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News nr. 33 of 3520
22/09/2019 22:00:00
Monaco and Iceland claim top honours at SCA Beach Volleyball Finals
21/09/2019 13:00:00
Italy and Latvia claim men’s Beach Volleyball Olympic berths in Haiyang
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