|Porto Santo, Portugal, September 19, 2004 - It looked like Brazil and Germany would play again here Sunday for the men's FIVB U-21 World Championships for Beach Volleyball players under 21 years old title, but Valters Ramma and Toms Smedins of Latvia and Miguel Angel Amo and Inocencio Lario of Spain spoiled the rematch of the countries in the 2003 finals.
Ramma (19 years old) and Smedins (18), who had to win two qualifying matches Wednesday to become the 24th-seeded team in the Main Draw, scored a 18-21, 21-18 and 15-13 win in 59 minutes over 20th-seeded Tom Götz (19) and Stefan Uhmann (18) of Germany in Sunday's first semi-final at the new Beach Sports Stadium on Penedo do Sono.
Eighth-seeded Miguel Angel Amo (19) and Inocencio Lario (20) of Spain upset second-seeded Moisés Santos (20) and Pedro Solberg Salgado (18) of Brazil 19-21, 23-21 and 15-13 to advance to the finals. The 68-minute semi-final match, the longest of the competition, also featured the two countries that competed for the first two FIVB U-21 titles in France (2001) and Italy (2002).
Solberg Salgado and Pedro Cunha defeated Daniel Krug and Mischa Urbatzka of Germany in the 2003 finals 21-12 and 21-18. For Solberg Salgado, it denied him a chance to give his family a second gold medal this weekend along with capturing his second-straight men's FIVB U-21 World Championship after teaming last season with Cunha to win the title in Saint Quay Portrieux, France.
Carolina Solberg Salgado, Pedro's 17-year old young sister, won the FIVB women's U-21 gold medal Saturday as she and Taiana Lima (20) scored a 21-11 and 21-12 victory over the Marion Castelli (20) and Eva Hamzaoui (19) of France.
While the Latvian men are 8-0 in the competition so fair, the Spaniards have now posted a 5-1 record. Amo and Lario, who dropped their second pool play match to Götz and Uhmann (22-20 and 21-15), have defeated teams from Canada, France, the Czech Republic, France and Brazil. Ramma and Smedins have wins over tandems from Denmark (qualifying), Austria (qualifying), Portugal, Austria, Mexico, the Netherlands, Switzerland and German.
Ramma and Smedins win also avenged a setback for Latvia to the Germans Saturday. Götz and Uhmann eliminated 16th-seeded Martins Plavins and Aleksandra Samoilovs 21-18, 19-21 and 15-13 to prevent an All-Latvian semi-final Sunday.
Presented by SWATCH, the FIVB U-21 World Championships concludes two weeks of international events for players under 21-years old. The FIVB U-18 World Championships were held last week in Termoli, Italy, where teams from Lithuania (men, Arunas Kirsnys and Arvydas Miseikis) and Poland (women, Katarzyna Urban and Joanna Wiatr) won the gold medals.
Brazil hosts the final 2004 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event in Rio de Janeiro starting Monday with women's qualifying for the $360,000 mixed gender stop. Men's qualifying opens Tuesday with the event running through next Sunday on Copacabana Beach.