BARCELONA, SPAIN, May 29, 2008 - Women’s Beach Volleyball teams from South American and Europe are pacing the field at the US$350,000 Hyundai Open Barcelona as the tandems of Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Francaof Brazil and Vassiliki Arvaniti and Vasso Karadassiou of Greece won a pair of matches each Thursday to advance to the “final four” at this week’s SWATCH FIVB World Tour event.
The top-seeded Juliana and Larissa advanced to their fifth-straight SWATCH “final four” this season, 12th-consecutive since last June and 48th overall. For the seventh-seeded Arvaniti and Karadassiou, the Hyundai Open Barcelona semi-final appearance is the Greeks first this year and seventh overall in 41 FIVB starts since the start of the 2005 season.
While Juliana and Larissa were defeating Brazilian rivals and fourth-seeded Talita Antunes and Renata Ribeiro for the 23rd-time in 28 SWATCH meetings since 2005 with a 21-14 and 22-20 win in 41 minutes, Arvaniti and Karadassiou posted a 21-15 and 21-17 semi-final-qualifying victory in 40 minutes over third-seeded Shelda Bede and Ana Paula Connelly of Brazil.
“This is our third-straight tournament with the two previous events in Asia,” said Juliana after her second match Thursday. “I think we are playing okay, but I feel that we are tired. We are glad to get through today with only one match Friday. That is why it is important to complete the winner’s bracket with an unbeaten record.”
In capturing the SWATCH FIVB World Tour gold medal last week’s event in Japan, Juliana and Larissa lost in the third-round of the winner’s bracket last Friday to force the Brazilians to win three elimination matches to reach the semi-finals where they defeated teams from Australia and China to reach the top spot on the Osaka podium.
“As one of the top seeds on this tour, you need to avoid upsets,” added Juliana, who will be seeking her 22nd SWATCH gold medal this weekend with Larissa since the pair formed their partnership 56 FIVB events ago at the start of the 2004 season. “Very few teams come through a women’s elimination bracket to win the title, especially if you
Since 1996, there have been 110 SWATCH FIVB World Tour women’s events utilizing the 32-team, double-elimination format to determine the gold medal team. Including three occurrences this season, 86 of the gold medal teams have completed play with a 6-0 record as no women’s team has rebounded from an opening defeat to win a SWATCH stop.
Friday’s women’s play in the Hyundai Open Barcelona starts with two elimination rounds on the steps in front of the National Museum of Art of Catalunya. Shelda and Ana Paula play the winner from a match between second-seeded Nicole Branagh/Elaine Youngs of the United States and fifth-seeded Sara Goller/Laura Ludwig of Germany for a semi-final spot opposite of Juliana and Larissa.
Sixth-seeded Jen Boss/April Ross of the United States play 11th-seeded Stephanie Pohl/Okka Rau of Germany Friday morning with the winner facing Talita and Renata for a “final four” berth opposite of Arvaniti and Karadassiou, the two-time European champions in 2005 and 2007. The two Brazilian teams are competing for their country’s second women’s spot in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
The first of seven-straight double gender events on the 2008 SWATCH FIVB World Tour calendar, the Hyundai Open Barcelona women’s competition concludes Saturday when the final two teams compete for the $28,000 first-place prize. The men’s medal matches will be played Sunday as four Brazilian teams opened Main Draw play Thursday with a 7-1 mark.
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