|Termoli, Italy, September 12, 2004 - Arunas Kirsnys and Arvydas Miseikis had to play an "extra" day in the FIVB World Championships for players 18 years old and under, but the young Lithuanians will now have a chance to enjoy "overtime" on the Rio Vivo Beach sand as they challenge European Champions Zbigniew Bartman and Michal Kubiak for the gold medal here Sunday afternoon.
Due to their late registration for the third-annual FIVB U-18 Beach Volleyball World Championships for players, Kirsnys and Miseikis had to win a Wednesday qualifier match to gain a spot in the 24-team Main Draw. After that, the Lithuanians have won five of six matches to advance to the finals against the 11th-seeded Bartman and Kubiak.
With their 21-19 and 21-17 win in 38minutes over 18th-seeded Ingars Ivanovs and Janis Smedins of Latvia, Kirsnys and Miseikis avenged their only defeat in the competition. The Latvians had posted a 21-16 and 21-18 win over Kirsnys and Miseikis Thursday.
"As you know, basketball is very big in our country, said Miseikis. "Hopefully, this gold or silver medal finish today will help give Beach Volleyball some much-needed recognition in our country. We are a small country of only three-million people, so this will be a big deal."
Bartman and Kubiak withstood second-set challenge by 10th-seeded Reid Hall and Adam Podstawka to score a 21-17 and 24-22 win in 41 minutes over the Canadians, who will played Ivanovs and Smedins for the men's bronze medal in the mixed gender event.
The Polish Champions defeated Marko Kienast and Thilo Späth of Germany 21-14 and 28-26 for the European U-18 title in Myslowice, Poland last month. Kirsnys and Miseikis placed fifth at Myslowice where both of their losses were to "final four" teams.
"We were disappointed with our play in our final two matches in the European Championships," said Miseikis. "We started playing volleyball indoors, so the beach game is pretty new to us. We enjoy playing on the sand, and hopefully, we can continue to improve our game to compete in more international events. We have had a good time this week and winning an international medal is tremendous."
The FIVB U-18 World Championships also features women's competition as both genders conclude play Sunday afternoon medal matches. Poland will have a chance for a second gold medal as Katarzyna Urban and Joanna Wiatr challenge Barbara Figueiredo and Carolina Solberg Salgado of Brazil for the women's title.