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29/08/2016 07:00
Russia and Ukraine net gold medals at EEVZA event in Jurmala
News from the Zonal Associations

Jurmala, Latvia, August 28, 2016. After three days of competition on Majori beach in Jurmala, the eventual winners of the Eastern European Volleyball Zonal Association (EEVZA) Beach Volleyball Tour stop held in Latvia’s ‘summer capital’ were crowned on Sunday. Ukraine’s Valentyna Davidova and Ievgeniia Shchypkova shared the highest step of the podium with Yaroslav Koshkarev and Ruslan Bykanov from Russia.

The final day of the tournament started in a promising way for the host country – four Latvian teams made it to the quarter-finals, but only Marta Ozolina/Alise Lece and Rihards Finsters/Edgars Tocs got to play in the semi-finals before losing there and having to be content to play the bronze medal matches.

In the women’s ‘small final’, Russia’s Olga Motrich and Daria Rudykh played with confidence and beat the reigning Latvian champions Ozolina/Lece in just two sets 2-0 (21-16, 21-9). In the gold medal match all the support of the spectators went to the newly-formed Lithuanian duo Monika Povilaityte/Karole Virbickaite, who delivered a great effort especially in the second set, but that was not enough to claim gold in Jurmala, which went to Valentyna Davidova and Ievgeniia Shchypkova (2-0; 21-12, 26-24). Earlier this summer the Ukrainians had won the EEVZA Moscow Masters as well as the CEV Satellite in Vilnius before being close to qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Rihards Finsters and Edgars Tocs broke a negative curse for Latvian teams not recording podium finishes in EEVZA events since 2012, even though at least one such a tournament has been hosted every year since then in the Baltic country. The bronze medal match between Finsters/Tocs and Mykola Babich/Iaroslav Gordieiev from Ukraine was indeed an interesting one, with both teams showing a great effort and fighting for every point. To please their fans, the Latvians managed a comeback after losing the first set, and eventually claimed bronze with a 2-1 (19-21, 21-17, 15-11) win.

The men’s gold medal match was a derby between two Russian duos – Alexander Likholetov/Ilya Leshukov and Yaroslav Koshkarev/Ruslan Bykanov. Both teams showed their best game throughout the tournament, with Likholetov/Leshukov dropping only one set on the way to the final – which happened in their pool game against Tocs/Finsters. It looked like the eventual winners of the tournament were to be decided after a three-set final, but Koshkarev/Bykanov managed to keep their lead in the second set and eventually won the game 2-0 (21-15, 26-24).

This EEVZA event was also the last stop of the Latvian National tour ERGO OPEN 2016, which gathered players not only from Latvia, but also from the neighbouring countries, in as many as six stops played across the Baltic nation. This season the Latvian Beach Volleyball Championship was sponsored by the insurance company ERGO for the fourth consecutive year.

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