Xiamen, China, September 24, 2015 - Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins from Latvia added a third win on Thursday to top their group as men's pool plays came to a close at the FIVB Beach Volleyball Xiamen Open.
In Samoilovs/Smedins' final pool match they overcame Austria's Alexander Huber/Robin Seidl 2-1 (21-16, 19-21, 15-11) and the win places them top of pool A allowing them to enter directly in round two of the single elimination tournament on Friday.
The No. 1 seeds came out strongly at the beginning of the match sending Huber/Seidl to every part of the court. Refusing to go without a fight, the Austrian pair stepped up the
pace in the second set while Samoilovs/Smedins made some unforced errors. Trailing by 20-18, Samoilovs/ Smedins saved a set point but then a drop shot by Huber ended the set. The
Latvians took the early initative in the tie-breaker and held on to win.
"The Austrian team are the strongest opponents in our pool, that's why the game was very close. In the first set we were leading all the time, but in the second set we made some mistakes," said Smedins.
In Pool B, USA's Nicholas Lucena/Phlip Dalhausser also advanced to round two of the knockout stages at the Xiamen Open after fending off Jean-Baptiste Daguerre/Yannick Salvetti of France in a long battle ending 2-1 (18-21, 21-14, 15-9).
The first set saw good skill at the net from the French pair, but Lucena's accurate setting gave way to Dalhausser as the USA hit back to take the second set. Both teams continued to fight hard in the tiebreaker. With Lucena/Dalhausser leading at 9-7, the match was halted for about three minutes for a medical timeout after Daguerre showed signs of dehydration in hot and humid weather. After the match resumed, the French team could hardly pose serious challenge to their opponents.
"It's very hot, maybe the hottest place that I've ever been. But it's a good game. We gonna play tomorrow, hopefully we will recover," said Lucena.
"It's basically about who wants more, who is doing the hardest in this heat," said Dalhausser. "France is a good team. They played well until everyone is super tired. It doesn't really become volleyball, it just becomes kind of whoever are the toughest, bascially like who wants more."
Lucena and Dalhausser are playing here only their fourth World Tour event as a team together since 2005. They reached the final at both the Long Beach Grand Slam and the Sochi Open before coming to Xiamen.
In a thrilling clash of Asian teams, China's Li Zhuoxin/Li Jian were pushed hard by Takumi Takahashi/Junki Hatabe of Japan before winning 2-1 (21-19, 13-21, 18-16). To the loud cheers from local crowds, the Chinese pair saved three match points before closing it out on the first of their own. "We played with a lot of patience, especially in the tie-breaker. That's the key to our victory today," said Li Jian.
Li Zhuoxin and Li Jian, who started to pair up last month, will be joined by another Chinese team Gao Peng/Li Yang in the knockout stage. Gao/Li won their last pool match on Thursday after Qatar's Jefferson Santos Pereira/Cherif Younousse forfeited due to injury.
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.