Volleyball player Lauren Stivriņa: A Potential Addition to the Latvian National Team?

Aleksas, the father of volleyball players Lorena and Embera Stivriņi, whose father Kazimirs was born in Izvalta parish, is considered the first player of Latvian origin to play in the NBA. The eldest of the sisters, Lauren, was twice included in the first symbolic team of the NCAA season during her college years, but after a long injury treatment, this is her first professional season in Europe. Stivriņa started it in the strong Italian championship, however, last week the Florentine “Il Bisonte” team announced the termination of the contract with him.

“She has ambitions to be on the USA team and go to the Olympics with it. As long as they exist, it is difficult for us to oppose them. Lorena has not played in national teams before, so she could get a Latvian passport and join our national team quite easily,” Vitkovskis revealed to “Sporta Avīze”. However, he also pointed out that if Mikas Ramanis, the volleyball player recruited to the men’s national team from the USA, has relatives and friends here, as well as he knows the language and immediately wanted to join the Latvian national team, the connection with our country has disappeared for the Stivriņi family. “We are thinking of visiting her in the spring with the coach of the national team, meeting for coffee, because it is difficult to tell from a distance what opportunities we can provide. There could be greater clarity after this summer – if he is called up to the US national team, the door to our national team will be closed.”

Lauren Stivrina’s sister Ember is also a volleyball player and is currently in her fifth year of college.

In the February “Sporta Avize” you can find an extensive story about the leader of the Latvian women’s volleyball team, Marta Kamelia Levinska, who also expressed her opinion about the Stivriņas sisters. “They’re straight from Arizona and Lauren trained with us one summer. Cool, very talented girl, she also has my agent. If she wanted to play for the Latvian national team, it would be very useful for us, but I don’t know if she would like it.” Levinska was surprised to learn that a conversation about this topic was actually started with her sisters.

“She doesn’t speak Latvian, but she knows what Latvia is, Lorena told me that her grandmother was from Riga. If we could get her to the national team, it would really help. Very talented. The first pace and the half, could be a great reinforcement,” the leader of the Latvian national team dreaming.

Lewinsky ended her NCAA career at the end of last year, with the final season turning out to be her most successful. In it, the Latvian was included in the symbolic selection among the 14 best student volleyball players, and her Arizona State University team “Sun Devils” reached the NCAA elimination tournament after an eight-year absence, where they reached the third round or round of 16 for the first time.

The Latvian women’s volleyball team participated in the finals of the European Championship in 1993, 1995 and 1997, but after that the results dropped rapidly and from 2006 to 2012 it did not even play a single match. Most recently, the team had a 40-plus game losing streak that began in 2014 and ended in August 2022 with a five-set win over Denmark in a European Championship qualifier. Last year, Latvians played against North Macedonia twice.

“We always knew that trying to resuscitate the national team, it will not be easy and will take a long time. Looking at our team now, you can see that we are a very young team. Other countries are ahead of us at the moment, but I think we have got ourselves to the point where finally we can play against other teams. Now the main thing is for each player to continue to develop individually and then put all the pieces together to reach the European Championship,” says Levinska.

The leader of the Latvian national team emphasizes that the team’s goal is to enter the final tournament, without naming the exact year when it could be done. “Already last year in the Silver League, I felt that the games that maybe didn’t go in our favor in the end were a chance to win. In other years, there was a feeling inside that I doubted whether we would win, but last year it changed. In this selection cycle, we can already start thinking about qualifying , but the next time, when the girls are a little older, the chances will be even greater, and maybe some new talents will appear.”

It is significant that this year, from July 1 to 6, the Latvian U-22 women’s national team will play among the eight best national teams in the final tournament of the European Championship, competing against the hosts Italy, Turkey and Ukraine in the subgroup tournament. Both the Latvian U-22 women’s team and the national women’s team are coached by Italian specialist Daniele Caprioti.

Read the whole story about Marta Kamelia Levinska in February’s “Sporta Avize”, which was available in the best newsstands for the last week.

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