Latvians survive Finnish scare

Baku, June 17, AZERTAC 

London 2012 bronze medallist Martins Plavins and his partner Haralds Regza were just a spike away from a damaging defeat in their opening men's Beach Volleyball match on Wednesday.

A loss against lesser-known Pool D opponents Pekka Piippo and Jyrki Nurminen of Finland, however, would not have been as much of a shock as it might appear.

"This is the first match we have played together this year. And before we only played once last year," Plavins said.

Not only were the Latvians trying to get to know each other on court, their opponents were also a mystery to them.

"We have never played them. We have never seen them. We didn't know how to play against them and we didn't have any tactics," Plavins revealed.

It was down to Latvia's first ever Olympic Beach Volleyball medallist to turn it around, and he was up to the challenge as they saved a match point to win 19-21, 22-20, 15-10.

It has been a long road for Plavins since his glory days in 2012, with his bronze medal-winning partnership with Janis Smedins broken up just as the celebrations finished.

This season the 30-year-old has settled on a partner to try and qualify for Rio 2016, and in a normal week he and Hermans Egleskalns would be in Florida competing at the St Petersburg International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) Grand Slam event, but duty with the national team called.

Next up, Plavins and his Baku 2015 partner Regza will face Belarus pair Aliaksandr Kavalenka and Aliaksandr Dziadkou in a match that will likely determine the Pool D winner.

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