Stavanger, Norway, June 28, 2007 -
Third-seeded Jie Wang/Jia Tian (Pool C) and fifth-seeded Chen Xue/Xi Zhang of China (Pool E) won their groups for China to join top-seeded Kerri Walsh/Misty May-Treanor of the United States (Pool A) and second-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca of Brazil (Pool B) in protecting their pool placement Friday.
With match records along with set and point ratios determining the draw placement, the top half of the elimination bracket will have five of the top eight-seeded teams. With May-Treanor/Walsh and Tian/Wang in the same side of the bracket, there will not be a repeat of last week’s SWATCH finale in Paris where the Americans defeated the Chinese for the gold medal.
Making the “biggest” break-throughs Thursday by winning their pools to also earn “byes” were the teams of 11th-seeded Nicole Branagh/Elaine Youngs of the United States (Pool F), the 13th-seeded Salgado sisters (Carolina and Maria Clara) of Brazil (pool D), 23rd-seeded Mika Teru Saiki/Chiaki Kusuhara of Japan (Pool G) and 25th-seeded Dalixia Fernandez Grasset/Tamara Larrea Peraza of Cuba (Pool H).
The second of five “major” events on the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, the ninth annual ConocoPhillips Grand Slam started with women’s pool play Wednesday. The top three tandems from each group Thursday advanced to the 24-team single-elimination where the top pool finishers earned “byes” into the second-round.
The fourth of 13 double gender events on the SWATCH circuit this season, the ConocoPhillips Grand Slam women’s schedule Friday will feature three rounds of elimination play to set the lineup for Saturday’s semi-finals and medal matches were the winning team will split the $43,500 first-place prize. The men complete pool play Friday followed by three elimination rounds Saturday. The men’s semi-finals and finals will be played Sunday.
Fourth-seeded Talita Antunes and Renata Ribeiro of Brazil, who placed 25th in Paris last week and finished second to the Salgado sisters in Pool D Thursday, face seventh-seeded Tamsin Barnett and Natalie Cook of Australia in an opening match Friday with the winner playing Fernandez Grasset and Larrea Peraza.
Eighth-seeded Leila Barros and Ana Paula Connelly of Brazil eliminated ninth-seeded Nila Ann Hakedal and Ingrid Torlen of Norway to earn the third spot Pool H to advance to an opening elimination match Friday against 16th-seeded Milagros Crespo/Imara Esteves Ribalta of Cuba with the winner playing Teru Saiki and Kusuhara.
After losing to Branagh and Youngs Thursday, sixth-seeded Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede earned the second berth from Pool F. The two-time Olympic silver medal winners from Brazil, Adriana and Shelda play 17th-seeded Sara Goller and Laura Ludwig of Germany with the victors challenging Xue and Zhang.
May-Treanor and Walsh, the reigning Olympic and world champions, await the winner of the match between 19th-seeded Sara Montagnolli/Sabine Swoboda of Austria and 24th-seeded Merel Mooren/Rebekka Kadijk of the Netherlands. Juliana and Larissa will play either 14th-seeded Okka Rau/Stephanie Pohl of Germany or 28th-seeded Lucilla Perrotta/Daniela Gattelli of Italy in their first match Friday.
Host Norway will have 10th-seeded Kathrine Maaseide/Susanne Glesnes in the elimination round to play 27th-seeded Hana Klapalova/Tereza Petrova of the Czech Republic with the winner facing Tian and Wang. Other first-round matches have 12th-seeded Rieke Brink-Abeler/Hella Jurich of Germany playing 15th-seeded Vasso Karadassiou/Vassiliki Arvaniti of Greece and 29th-seeded April Ross/Jennifer Boss of the United States against 31st-seeded Annie Martin/Dana Cooke of Canada. The Germany/Greece winners plays the Salgados and Branagh and Youngs face the Canada/USA victors.
The SWATCH-FIVB World Tour continues next week in Canada before returning to Europe for the third grand slam event in Berlin July 10-15 followed by a stop in Marseille and the $1-million SWATCH-FIVB World Championships in Gstaad, Switzerland.