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Beach Volleyball - 10. October 2008.

Austrian & Brazilian sisters join Americans in Dubai Open women's semi-finals


Earning a Dubai Open semi-final berth with her Austrian sister is Stephanie Schwaiger

Dubai, United Arab Emirates-After the teams of Nicole Branagh/Kerri Walsh and Jen Boss/April Ross earned women’s Dubai Open semi-final berths here Thursday, sister tandems from Austria and Brazil joined the Americans in the “final four” after winning elimination matches later in the evening.

The US$350,000 SWATCH FIVB World Tour event also features men’s competition as the Dubai Open is the first-ever international Beach Volleyball event to be staged in the United Arab Emirates with the semi-finals for both genders to be played Friday evening with the medal matches Saturday.

The winning teams on the Jumeirah Beach Park centre court will share the $28,000 first-place prizes for the 18th men’s SWATCH FIVB World Tour event this season and the 17th for women. Two more events for both genders remain on the schedule with the next stop being for men at the end of October in Bahrain.

Earning semi-final berths opposite of the Americans were the second-seeded Salgados (Carolina and Maria Clara) of Brazil and the 10th-seeded Schwaigers (Doris and Stefanie) of Austria as the “Sister Acts” posted wins over teams from Germany and Canada to advance to Friday’s women’s “final four” schedule.

With the Austrians and Brazilians in the Dubai Open semi-final, it marked the second time in SWATCH tour history that the two sister teams have competed for an international medal. The first was at the end of August in Norway when the Schwaigers defeated the Brazilian sisters for the Kristiansand bronze medal.

The top-seeded Branagh and Walsh, who posted a 21-13 and 21-14 semi-final-qualifying win in 39 minutes over 21st-seeded Annie Martin and Marie-Andree Lessard of Canada, will face the Salgados while Boss and Ross meet the Schwaigers for the second time on the SWATCH FIVB World Tour. Boss and Ross defeated the Schwaigers in a 2007 match in Austrian Grand Slam in Klagenfurt.

After losing to third-seeded Boss and Ross 21-17 and 21-18 win in 42 minutes in their first match Thursday, the Salgados earned their seventh SWATCH FIVB World Tour semi-final appearance in 58 international Beach Volleyball events together with a 21-10 and 21-18 win over seventh-seeded Anja Gunther and Geeske Banck of Germany in 42 minutes.

The Schwaigers gained their second SWATCH “final four” berth in 64 FIVB events with a 21-16, 19-21 and 15-12 win in 58 minutes over Martin and Lessard. It was the Austrians second match of the day as the Schwaigers opened with a 21-19 and 23-21 victory in 50 minutes over 31st-seeded Danielle Remmers and Michelle Stiekema of the Netherlands.

Despite the setback, the fifth-place finish was Lessard’s best-ever SWATCH FIVB World Tour placement after posting a seventh in a 2005 stop in Montreal with Sarah Maxwell. A 10-year veteran of international competition, Lessard also became the 17th women’s player to play in at least 100 FIVB-sanctioned events.

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