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Latvia’s “happy” combination

Anastasija Kravcenoka (center) hits past Italian Michela Lantignotti as Latvian partner Tina Graudina watches the Pool A match Thursday at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games.

Nanjing, China, August 21, 2014 - After a good “rest” day, the Latvian Beach Volleyball team of Tina Graudina and Anastasija Kravcenoka once again gained the feeling of victory here Thursday after losing a match two days earlier to the Canadian McNamara twins.

With Latvians rooting for the women from their country and waving their national flag, Graudina and Kravcenoka posted a 2-0 (21-15 and 21-17) win in 35 minutes over Irene Enzo and Michela Lantignotti in a Pool A match Thursday on the main court of the Beach Volleyball venue in the Nanjing Sports Park Complex.

With the win, the Graudina and Kravcenoka improved their pool record to 3-1 to rank behind the McNamara’s (Megan and Nicole) 4-0 match mark in Pool A.  The Latvians also avenged a lost to the Italians in the CEV Continental Cup finale in Turkey this past May.

“I am very satisfied with their performance in this match,” said Latvian coach Inese Jursone, who won the European Beach Volleyball championship in 2009 with Inguna Minusa.  “They were very focused throughout the match.  They played with a good tempo and made some tactical adjustments during the match when needed.”

Graudina and Kravcenoka have been competing together for a year as both girls have been playing Beach Volleyball since 2008.  “I like my job,” said the 17-year old Kravcenoka.  “It’s a very happy time to play Beach Volleyball with Tina.  We have a good cooperation, but we still have a lot to learn.”

Kravcenoka started playing indoor Volleyball at the age of five while Graudina was involved initially with track and field.  “It is a hard work when I started playing Beach Volleyball,” said the 16-year old Graudina, “but I really love the sport since there are only two people competing together in the field.  It’s more like an individual sport and it makes me happy.”

In visiting China for the first-time, Graudina and Kravcenoka are impressed.  “Nanjing is a nice place and the people have shown a lot of kindness,” said Graudina.  “I hope Nanjing can be my lucky place.  It will be the most memorable moment when we take a good place in Nanjing Youth Olympics.”

With the Canadians and the Latvians guaranteed the top two spots in Pool A, the Italians (2-2 pool record) will be bidding for the third spot in the group against teams Ecuador (2-2, Briggitte Batioja/Mishelle Molina) and Kazakhstan (1-3, Yekaterina Lassyuta/Anna Pimenova) with the Namibia pair (0-4) of Stephanie Palmhert and Kim Seebach eliminated from qualifying for Sunday’s bracketed rounds.

Friday’s final Pool A matches will have Italian challenging the Canadians, Namibia meeting the Latvians and Ecuador playing Kazakhstan.  The top four finishers in each pool advance to Sunday’s opening single-elimination rounds.


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