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International beach volleyball returns to St. Petersburg after seven years

The beautiful setting of the EEVZA Tour venue in Sestroretsk

St. Petersburg, Russia, August 22, 2014 - One of the last stops of the 2014 EEVZA Beach Volleyball Tour starts on August 22 in the resort area of St. Petersburg in Russia - Sestroretsk.  For the first time since 2007, when St. Petersburg organized an FIVB Open event, the northern capital of the Russian Federation hosts an international competition for one of the most exciting and spectacular Olympic sports - beach volleyball.

Some great East European athletes will gather this weekend in Russia - 16 women's and 24 men’s duos who for various reasons could not take part in the FIVB World Tour Stare Jablonki Grand Slam, the Youth Olympics in China, or the 2014 CEV U18 Beach Volleyball European Championship.

The women's grid will consist of 4 pools of 4 teams each.  Russians Olga Motrich and a participant of the 2012 Olympic Games, Anastasia Vasina, now serving under the surname Barsouk, will star on the home sand as the top-seeded team.  They will be followed by another Russian pair, Yulia Abalakina/Ksenia Dabizha. Some strong Eastern European pairs also arrived in Russia. The foreigners’ presence will be headlined by Lithuanian duo Ieva Dumbauskayte/Monika Povilaytite. They recently became FIVB U21 World Championship runners-up, finished 9th at the U23 championship and also won the EEVZA Tour stage in Vilnius. Belarus and Ukraine will be represented at the women's tournament by one team each.

On the men’s side, two top-seeded teams are considered among the main favorites - the winners of the 2014 CEV Beach Volleyball European Championship Novi Sad Masters Sergey Prokopev/Gregory Goncharov and silver medalists from the recent Russian National Championship Final in Sochi Ruslan Dayanov/Alexander Likholetov.  However, they will compete against very serious pairs from Russia and Eastern Europe. Three pairs from Latvia arrived at Sestoretsk, headed by Tom Smedins, brother of one of the strongest Latvian beach volleyball players Janis Smedins, as well as two pairs from Belarus featuring the experienced 35-year-old Alexander Kovalenko, who started his international beach volleyball tournament career back in 1997, and one pair each from Estonia, Lithuania and Ukraine.

There are also other Russian teams expected to show some good beach volleyball at Setsroretsk this weekend. Yury Bogatov/Maxim Khudyakov who have considerable experience performing at FIVB events or young Ilya Leshukov/Alexander Margiev, who recently took silver at the FIVB U21 World Championship in Cyprus are shining examples.

Like in all EEVZA tournaments, the matches in Russia will be played in the test best-of-five format with the first four sets to 15 points and the tie-breaker to 7. In addition, also in accordance with CEV recommendations, a main draw of 8 pools with 3 teams each will be tested in the men's tournament.

The sand battles on Dubkovsky beach at Sestroretsk promise to be real hard, also because of the additional motivation for the participants - FIVB ranking points at stake in addition to the attractive amount of prize money. The winners and the rest of the medalists will be decided on Sunday, August 24.

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