BARCELONA, SPAIN, May 28, 2008 - After placing 25th two weeks ago in Korea, a pair of Beach Volleyball wins by Simone Kuhn and Lea Schwer here Wednesday at the US$350,000 Hyundai Open Barcelona helped end a run of SWATCH FIVB World Tour disappointments for the Swiss pair.
“We need to finish ninth or higher this week to help improve our chances for the Olympics,” said the 27-year old Kuhn, who participated in the Athens 2004 Summer Games with Nicole Nicole Schnyder-Benoit. “We have not played well in our last four SWATCH events, so we wanted to prove to ourselves that we are a better team than our previous results.”
With their 23-21 and 21-17 win in 52 minutes over eighth-seeded Tyra Turner and Rachel Wacholder of the United States, Kuhn and Schwer are now guaranteed a ninth this week after placing 17th, 17th, 25th and 25th in their last four SWATCH FIVB World Tour events dating back to last November in Thailand.
“I feel we regained some confidence last week by playing very well in the European tour event in Switzerland,” Kuhn added about her team’s silver medal finish in Lucerne where the Swiss dropped the finale to Greece’s Vassiliki Arvaniti and Vasso Karadassiou, the reigning continental champions.
“We also need to prove to ourselves that we can play against the top teams in the world and be successful,” Kuhn added. “I don’t think we did anything different today than what we have been doing. We just played very well and were able to finish off sets to win matches. We are very excited to accomplish our goal of finishing at least ninth this week.”
Thursday’s first opponent for Kuhn and Schwer will be top-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca of Brazil, who have captured two SWATCH gold medals this season and 21 titles since forming their partnership at the start of the 2004 season. The Swiss are winless in seven FIVB matches against Juliana and Larissa, who defeated teams from Spain and Cuba Wednesday.
Like Juliana and Larissa, three other teams from Beach Volleyball power Brazil advanced undefeated to Thursday’s play along with pairs from Cuba, Greece and the United States. The winner of the match between Juliana/Larissa and the Swiss will face the winner of an All-Brazilian match between fourth-seeded Talita Antunes/Renata Ribeiro and the 12th-seeded Salgado sisters (Carolina and Maria Clara) for the first Hyundai Open Barcelona semi-final berth.
Third-seeded Shelda Bede and Ana Paula Connelly lead the Brazilian effort in the bottom half of the Hyundai Open Barcelona winner’s bracket where the South Americans will play sixth-seeded Jen Boss and April Ross of the United States in their first match Thursday. The Brazil-USA winner will face either seventh-seeded Karadassiou/Arvaniti or 15th-seeded Milagros Crespo/Imara Esteves Ribalta of Cuba for a “final four” berth.
Sixteen other teams remain in double-elimination Hyundai Open Barcelona with one defeat, including 10th-seeded Nadia Campisi and Clara Lozano of Spain. Thursday’s schedule features 22 matches, including the first two “final four” qualifying contests. The semi-finals will be played Friday afternoon with medal matches Saturday when the winning team shares the $28,000 first-place prize.
The third of 16 double gender events on the 2008 SWATCH FIVB World Tour calendar, the Hyundai Open Barcelona’s men’s 47-team qualifier was played Wednesday to determine the final eight spots for the Main Draw. The men’s medal matches will be played Sunday on the steps in front of the National Museum of Art of Catalunya.
With the Hyundai Open Barcelona being the 22nd of 28 women’s qualifying events for August’s Beijing 2008 Olympics, a team’s best eight finishes on the SWATCH FIVB World Tour are used to determine a tandem’s Summer Games’ ranking. European pairs can also use a finish from one of the two continental championships in either 2007 or 2008.
photos Janos Schmidt