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Beach Volleyball - 28. September 2007.


Larissa Franca (left) waves to her Brazilian fans after clinching a semi-final berth Thursday with Juliana Felisberta Silva (right) as FIVB highlight cameraman Price Wetherill follows the action

Fortaleza, Brazil, September 27, 2007

Both teams won a pair of matches here Thursday on the on the Praia de Iracema to reach the “final four” of the US$400,000 Banco do Brasil Open while six other women’s teams remain in the double-elimination competition with one defeat each.

The top-seeded May-Treanor and Walsh are now seven-for-seven in capturing semi-final-qualifying matches through the winner’s bracket this season after defeating American compatriots and fourth-seeded Jen Boss and April Ross 21-19 and 23-21 Thursday afternoon.

May-Treanor and Walsh have now won their last 10 semi-final-qualifying matches since dropping 21-19 and 21-19 at the 2006 Austrian Grand Slam to Jia Tian and Jie Wang of China, who eventually won the Klagenfurt gold medal by defeating Juliana and Larissa in the finals.

The reigning Olympic champions, May-Treanor and Walsh have now compiled 47 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour “final four” appearances in 54 international starts together since 2001. Winners of 29 FIVB gold medals, May-Treanor and Walsh extended their SWATCH winning streak to 33 Thursday while improving their season mark to 45-1 with a 90-8 set record.

Juliana and Larissa, who captured last year’s SWATCH Brazilian stop in Vitoria where May-Treanor and Walsh placed third, advanced to their 43rd SWATCH semi-final in 51 FIVB starts since 2004 with a 21-18 and 21-12 win over third-seeded Brazilian rivals Talita Antunes and Renata Ribeiro.

Winners of 19 of 22 SWATCH meetings over Talita and Renata, Juliana and Larissa will be seeking their 21st FIVB gold medal as the Brazilians have posted a 71-12 record for 13 international events this season with a seven-match winning streak. Juliana and Larissa have posted an 8-2 semi-final-qualifying mark through the winner’s bracket this season and 3-0 through the contender’s bracket.

With one more win in the Banco do Brasil Open competition, Juliana and Larissa will secure their third-straight SWATCH-FIVB World Tour season’s point’s championships. The Brazilians currently rank ahead of Tian and Wang (6,920 and 6,740) on the SWATCH standings, but the Chinese would have an opportunity to surpass the leaders in the women’s season finale at the start of November in Phuket if Juliana and Larissa do not reach the podium Saturday.

With Friday’s semi-finals looming, May-Treanor/Walsh and Juliana/Larissa will await the surviving teams from the final two rounds of elimination Friday morning. Boss and Ross will play the winner of the match between sixth-seeded Laura Goller/Laura Ludwig of Germany and seventh-seeded Adriana Behar/Shelda Bede of Brazil for a semi-final spot opposite of Juliana and Larissa.

For the second-time in the Banco do Brasil Open competition, fifth-seeded Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs of the United States will play 28th-seeded Ana Paula Connelly and Sandra Pires of Brazil. The Americans won an 18-21, 21-12 and 15-9 match in Wednesday’s opening Main Draw rounds as Ana Paula and Sandra have now won four-straight elimination matches.

Talita and Renata will play the winner of the Branagh/Youngs and Ana Paula/Sandra match for a “final four” berth opposite of May-Treanor and Walsh, who captured the last SWATCH stop in Fortaleza with a 2004 gold medal win on the Praia de Iracema over Adriana and Shelda. Juliana and Larissa finished third in that event in their first-ever FIVB event together.

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