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Last-minute partnership could prove golden

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Beach Volleyball

Sunday 21 June
BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 21: Premysl Kubala of the Czech Republic (1) dives for the ball during the Men's Beach Volleyball semi final match between the Czech Republic and Latvia during day nine of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Beach Arena on June 21, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 21: Martins Plavins (1) of Latvia dives for the ball during the Men's Beach Volleyball semi final match between the Czech Republic and Latvia during day nine of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Beach Arena on June 21, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images BEGOC)
© Getty Images
BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 21: Haralds Rega of Latvia and Jan Handrava the Czech Republic jump at the net during the Men's Beach Volleyball semi final on day nine of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Beach Arena on June 21, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 21: Gabriel Kissling of Switzerland dives for the ball in the Men's Beach Volleyball semi final against Russia during day nine of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Beach Arena on June 21, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images BEGOC)
© Getty Images
BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 21: Dmitry Barsouk of Russia in action against Alexi Strasser of Switzerland during the Men's Beach Volleyball semi final on day nine of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Beach Arena on June 21, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images BEGOC)
© Getty Images
BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 21: Gabriel Kissling of Switzerland dives for the ball in the Men's Beach Volleyball semi final against Russia during day nine of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Beach Arena on June 21, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images BEGOC)
© Getty Images
BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 21: Dmitry Barsouk of Russia in action against Alexi Strasser of Switzerland during the Men's Beach Volleyball semi final on day nine of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Beach Arena on June 21, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images BEGOC)
© Getty Images
BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 21: Martins Plavins of Latvia dives for the ball in the Men's Beach Volleyball semi final during day nine of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Beach Arena on June 21, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images BEGOC)
© Getty Images
BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 21: Haralds Rega of Latvia and Jan Handrava the Czech Republic jump at the net during the Men's Beach Volleyball semi final on day nine of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Beach Arena on June 21, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images BEGOC)
© Getty Images
BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 21: Yoroslav Koshkarev and Dmitry Barsouk of Russia celebrates after winning the Men's Beach Volleyball semi final against Switzerland during day nine of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Beach Arena on June 21, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images BEGOC)
© Getty Images
Latvians reach Beach Volleyball final after one tournament and one practice together

Latvians Martins Plavins and Haralds Regza have turned the established maxim of Beach Volleyball on its head during their run to Sunday evening's gold medal match.

Years of training, travelling and living together, all leading to innate understanding and instinctive anticipation, are typically the keys to successful pairings.

Not so for Plavins and Regza, whose 21-14, 21-17 win over Czech pair Premysl Kubala and Jan Hadrava puts them one match away from being crowned European Games champions.

"He (Regza) has his partner, I have my partner and we agreed with them to play this Olympic cycle together. This is just for the European Games," Plavins said.

The London 2012 Olympic Games bronze medallist and 22-year-old partner Regza played one tournament together in 2014 and had just one training session at the beginning of the week.

"One practice, one final," Plavins said. "The weather conditions really helped us. On the first days there was a big wind when we were not confident about ourselves and nobody could attack strongly and we had a chance to play defence."

As with all relationships, the pair are enjoying their honeymoon period.

"He is okay, more or less," laughed Plavins, when told his partner had made five point-winning blocks in the second set. "If he makes five blocks in every set in the final then he will be okay."

Russian Federation pair Dmitry Barsouk and Yaroslav Koshkarev will be on the opposite side of the net in the gold medal match. The pair overcame Swiss duo Alexei Strasser and Gabriel Kissling 2-0, winning a dramatic second set 29-27.

"The second set was so difficult. It was crazy, we made three aces to recover from their 9-4 lead and we played one ball 10 times," Koshkarev said.

The final takes place at 22:00 on Sunday night.


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