ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA, March 29, 2008 - Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs will have to defeat a women’s team from Brazilian for a Beach Volleyball medal on Glenelg Beach this week as the American won a pair of elimination matches here Saturday morning to advance to the semi-finals of the US$350,000 Adelaide Australia Open.
Seeded fourth in the 32-team double-elimination Main Draw on the Moseley Square courts, Branagh and Youngs ousted a pair of teams from Germany to advance to the “final four” later Saturday against the top-seeded Brazilian tandem of Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca.
Saturday’s other women’s semi-final will be an All-Brazilian affair as 11th-seeded Shelda Bede and Ana Paula Connelly challenge fifth-seeded Talita Antunes and Renata Ribeiro for a spot in the gold medal match at the season opening event on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour.
While Juliana/Larissa and Shelda/Ana Paula claimed semi-final spots Friday by advancing through the winner’s bracket unbeaten, Branagh and Youngs had to win twice in the contender’s bracket while Talita and Renata ousted a team from China for their 15th SWATCH-FIVB World Tour “final four” berth in 47 international events.
After defeating eighth-seeded Stephanie Pohl/Okka Rau 21-14, 18-21 and 15-13 in 58 minutes, Branagh and Youngs earned their fifth SWATCH semi-final berth in 12 FIVB events with a 21-14 and 21-17 victory over 10th-seeded Sara Goller and Laura Ludwig.
Renata, who sprained her ankle in Friday’s winner’s bracket quarter-final setback to Juliana and Larissa, and Talita recovered from their only defeat in the inaugural Adelaide Australia Open by ousting second-seeded Jia Tian and Jie Wang of China 21-19 and 21-17. Earlier Saturday, Tian and Wang ousted Chinese compatriots and third-seeded Chen Xue and Xi Zhang 21-16 and 21-18.
While Shelda and Ana Paula will be playing Talita and Renata for the first-time internationally, Branagh and Youngs will be looking for their first win over Juliana and Larissa. Both previous matches have been in semi-finals at a 2006 Brazilian stop in Vitoria and a 2007 Russian event in St. Petersburg where Juliana and Larissa eventually won the gold medals.
With the Adelaide Australia Open being the 167th women’s stop on the FIVB tour that started in 1992, Brazil has now advanced three women’s teams to the semi-finals 31 times. A podium sweep by the South Americans would be No. 16 for the Brazilian women.
The first of 16 double gender events on the 2008 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, the Adelaide Australia Open concludes Sunday when the gold medal winning teams share the $28,000 first-place prizes.
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