Latvia’s Samoilovs/Smedins win their pool 3-0 on Thursday

Long Beach, Calif., USA, August 25, 2016 - They carried the weight of their country on their shoulders and they knew it. Latvia’s Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins had also put the pressure on themselves heading into the Rio 2016 Olympics. They had just won the A1 Major Klagenfurt and they headed to Brazil as the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour leaders, so certainly the expectations were high for the Latvians.

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Suddenly, it was over. The Latvians were one of three teams in their four-team pool to finish with a 1-2 record, but when the tiebreaking points were added up, Samoilovs and Smedins were out before the knockout phase of the Olympics.

“It was a big shock for us, for our fans for all of our team, for our country, because everybody was expecting a medal from us,” Samoilovs said. “And also there was 15 teams that were also going for a medal and it was hard.

“It was big pressure from everybody and for us. Only a medal would satisfy us, especially for Janis because he got a bronze in the last Olympics. But this is sports. That’s why it’s so interesting. If it would be always the strong team wins, it wouldn’t be that interesting. Everybody is waiting for good teams to lose so it becomes more interesting.”

At the World Series of Beach Volleyball FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam featuring the $800,000 FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam, Samoilovs and Smedins have rebounded from their disappointment. On Thursday, they won their two matches to go undefeated in Pool B to advance to Friday’s elimination rounds.

The 2016 FIVB World Tour regular season is concluding in the United States with the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball being held Tuesday through Sunday on a colorful purpose-built venue at Alamitos Beach adjacent to Marina Green Park on East Shoreline Drive.

Latvia’s Samoilovs/Smedins are joined by Poland’s Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak (Pool E) and Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariuz Prudel (Pool G) as undefeated winners in their groupings. Also going 3-0 were Olympians Adrian Gavira and Pablo Herrera of Spain (Pool F) and USA Olympians Nick Lucena/Phil Dalhausser (Pool A) and Brazil Olympians Pedro Solberg/Evandro (Pool C).

Spaniard Pablo Herrera receives

Winning their pools with 2-1 records were Russia’s Oleg Stoyanovskiy/Artem Yarzutkin (Pool D) and Mexico’s Lombardo Ontiveros/Juan Virgen (Pool H).  

The first two of the men’s elimination rounds will be held Friday heading into Saturday’s quarterfinals and semifinals. The medal matches will be played Sunday.

While the cornerstone of the beach volleyball celebration is the $800,000 FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam (regular season finale of the 2016 FIVB World Tour), the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball encompasses a wide variety of additional elements . Also part of the beach festival will be live entertainment, a special celebrity center court match, an expansive vendor’s village, multiple open, junior and youth beach volleyball tournaments and the very special legends of the game tribute dinner all at the event venue.

For complete details regarding the entire ASICS WSOBV lineup of events and activities including premium seating tickets, visit the event website at

Aleksandrs Samoilovs of Latvia dives for the ball

Samoilovs, a veteran of three Olympiads known worldwide as “The Lion King,” and Smedins, a bronze medalist in London 2012 with Martins Plavins, needed to reach deep in their final pool match on Alamitos Beach, recovering from a first-set loss to get past Chile’s Esteban Grimalt and Marco Grimalt.

The match was a reminder of what they went through in Rio de Janeiro.

“In the start against Chile we started in the same mood (as the Olympic hangover),” Samoilovs said. “We didn’t play with emotion, so it was like silent, it was negative emotion when we made mistakes. But then we just started to push each other with some screaming and good actions and started to feel better and better and we found our game.”

It was a far cry from their mood in Rio. It would have been cost-prohibitive to change their airline tickets to leave Rio, so they stayed to practice. It didn’t help that the Olympic excitement continued around them.

“We were in deep depression,” said Samoilovs, who is looking for his 10th FIVB World Tour title. “It took like four or five days to recover. We started practicing, and it was really hard to find motivation to continue practicing.

But they arrived in California with two final chances in 2016 to help ease the disappointment. They have the FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam, where they are seeded second behind American Olympians Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena, and the Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals in Toronto loom in September.

In Toronto, the top eight teams in the FIVB World Tour rankings plus four wild-card teams will play for a first-prize of US$100,000, but even that incentive takes a backseat to pride.

“It’s the same if we play an open, or our national tour, or the Olympics,” Samoilovs said. “We play to win every match, so we’re not looking at prize money or points. The moment you start counting points or thinking about some things outside the court, you start losing concentration and you’re not able to play your 100 percent game.

“It’s important because if we finish with the feeling from Rio, it would continue in the offseason, almost six months, and now we have some good wins and have good support here. Americans are cheering for us. They like the way we play so it’s giving us extra power.”

The gold medal teams at the FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam will split $57,000 and 800 points, the silver $43,000 and 720 points, the bronze $32,000 and 640 points and fourth place $24,000 and 560 points.

Following the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, there are two more events scheduled on the 2016 FIVB World Tour calendar. First event scheduled is in the United States--the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball at the $800,000 FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam (Aug. 23-28) and the Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals (Sept. 13-18, Toronto, Canada). The Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals, with $100,000 going to each winning team, will feature the top eight point leaders in each gender from the current FIVB World Tour plus four wild card teams in each gender.

The ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball at the $800,000 FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam in the United States is the 350th men’s tournament since the FIVB began play in 1987 and the 311th FIVB women’s tournament since their competition started in 1992.

FIVB 2016
Based in Lausanne, Switzerland as the international governing body for the Olympic sports of Beach Volleyball and Volleyball, the 2016 FIVB Beach Volleyball calendar features a purse of US$8.25 million with a season that extends from last October to this October, competing at 22 venues in 12 countries. The schedule includes four FIVB Grand Slams, four Swatch FIVB Major Series events, 13 FIVB Opens and the special Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals. The showcase event will be the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil (Aug. 6-18).

The 2015 portion of the 2016 FIVB World Tour calendar started in October in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and included two more open events prior to the remainder of the schedule resuming at the FIVB Kish Island Open in Iran in February.


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