|Termoli, Italy, September 12, 2004 - It was Arunas Kirsnys and Arvydas Miseikis' day here Sunday as the young Lithuanians netted the FIVB World Championship for players 18 years and under by defeating European Champions Zbigniew Bartman and Michal Kubiak for the gold medal.
A fifth-place finisher in last month's European U-18 Championships, Kirsnys and Miseikis scored a 21-14, 22-24 and 15-13 win over Bartman and Kubiak in 54 minutes as the Lithuanians denied Poland its second gold medal in this mixed gender event.
Poland's Katarzyna Urban and Joanna Wiatr upset Barbara Figueiredo and Carolina Solberg Salgado of Brazil 17-21, 21-17 and 15-13 in 53 minutes for the women's title to avenge an earlier defeat in the competition to the South Americans in pool play.
"I was more tired and nervous in our first match today," said Miseikis as the Lithuanians had to qualify for the Main Draw due to their late registration for the third-annual FIVB U-18 Beach Volleyball World Championships. Kirsnys and Miseikis advanced to the finals with a 21-19 and 21-17 win over 18th-seeded Ingars Ivanovs and Janis Smedins of Latvia.
"This is redemption for us after finishing fifth in the European finals," Miseikis noted as his partner was named the Most Valuable Player. "I think we got stronger throughout the finals. The Polish are a very good team and they played hard throughout the match. We had several chances to win the match in two sets, but the Poles never quit."
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 dropped the bronze medal match 21-15 and 21-14 in 34 minutes to Ivanovs and Smedins. The Latvians had posted a 21-16 and 21-18 win over Kirsnys and Miseikis Thursday.
With the silver medal finish, Poland joins Brazil as winning two medals each in the first three FIV B U-18 World Championships. Lithuania and Latvia join Germany, Greece and Russia with men's medals.
The first two FIVB U-18 World Championships were held in Xylokastro, Greece (2002) and Pattaya, Thailand (2003) where Brazil's Ian Borges and Pedro Solberg Salgado played in both gold medal matches. Salgado also won the 2003 FIVB U-21 title with Pedro Cunha in France.
The young Brazilians defeated Andreas Gortisanouk and Theodoris Papadimtriou of Greece 21-18 and 22-20 in the 2002 final while Germany's Sebastian Fuchs and Thomas Kaczmarek captured the Thailand gold medal with a 21-19, 23-25 and 18-16 over Borges and Salgado.
Presented by SWATCH, the 2004 FIVB U-18 World Championships will be followed by next week's fourth annual U-21 finale on Porto Santo Island, Portugal's Medeira Archipelago.