Xiamen, China, September 25, 2015 - Latvia's Martins Plavins/Haralds Regza stormed their way through all three rounds on Friday to the semifinals at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Xiamen Open.
It was a busy day for the men as the single elimination tournament played three rounds deciding the semifinal positions for Saturday. Along with Plavins/Regza, Markus Böckermann/Lars Flüggen from Germany, Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins from Latvia and USA's Nicholas Lucena/Phlip Dalhausser also made it through to the final day of the men's competition in Xiamen.
It was an incredible day on Guanyinshan Gold Beach for Plavins/Regza as they won three matches to secure their first ever FIVB World Tour semifinal since they began to play together as a team.
"It's our first FIVB tournament semifinal, so we're really excited and happy that we still have two more games. We'll try to show our best game tomorrow," said Plavins.
The first match of the day saw the Latvian pair beat Venezuela's Rolando Hernandez/Jhonatan Golindano 2-1 (21-18, 13-21, 15-10) in 45 minutes. Playing in the midday heat, Katsuhiro Shiratori/Yoshiumi Hasegawa from Japan took Plavins/Regza by surprise snatching the first set 21-17. The experienced Latvians then managed to turn the following two sets around, (17-21, 23-21, 15-11), in spectacular fashion with little to separate the two teams.
"It was very hot. I felt like we died. So we were so slow. No jump, no dive, very bad. But finally we won it," said Plavins.
In their third round match Plavins/Regza were up against Bartosz Losiak/Piotr Kantor of Poland. With their first final four in sight, Plavins/Regza looked freshed and showed clear determination from the outset. Given the slightest opportunity, Regza powered down ball after ball as Latvia led throughout the first set. In the second, Plavins/Regza remained focused and it was an intelligent Regza lob that finally gave them the ticket to the semifinal 2-0 (21-16, 21-18).
"My beginning of the season was not so good, because we lost a lot to the Polish team. I'm happy that we could beat them now at the end of the season in a very important game.
Maybe they didn't show their best game today, but this was our best game at the tournament," said Plavins.
Both Lucena/Dalhausser and Sam Pedlow/Grant O'Gorman from Canada topped their respective pool before each team eased to the quarterfinals with straight-set wins in the second round. The quarterfinal that ensued between the two teams was one of the tightest of the day.
The first set was evenly paced with the two teams trading point for point all the way up to 19-19. With Dalhausser a giant presence at the net, the American team closed it out at 24-22. The second set witnessed the same tussle for every point with some spectacular rallies, but the well earned semi-final position eventually went to Lucena/Dalhausser 2-0 (24-22, 21-16).
"We played pretty good. They played well, too. It was a high-level match, a lot of siding-out. " said Dalhausser.
"I thought that was the best game for us at this tournament so far," said Lucena.
Böckermann/Flüggen, the winners of the season-opening Fuzhou Open in April, are also through to the final four easing past Austria's Alexander Huber/Robin Seidl 2-0 (27-25, 21-16), while Francisco Alfredo Marco/Christian García's hopes of reaching the Xiamen Open semis for the second straight year were smashed when the 14th-seeded Spaniards lost to top seeds Samoilovs/Smedins 0-2 (8-21, 17-21).
The men's medals matches will be contested on Saturday.
The double-gender $150,000 FIVB Xiamen Open is the final point's event on the 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball calendar. The event is being held at the Guanyinshan Gold Beach in the Siming District of the Fujian Province. The winning teams in each gender will share the $11,000 first-place prize.