|Termoli, Italy, September 12, 2004 - It will be Poland against favourite Brazil for the gold medal here Sunday afternoon as the two countries won morning semi-final matches at the women's FIVB World Championships for players under 18 years old.
Katarzyna Urban and Joanna Wiatr of Poland and second-seeded Barbara Figueiredo and Carolina Solberg Salgado of Brazil defeated teams from the Netherlands and Germany, respectively, to earn a spot in the finals of the mixed gender event. Teams from Poland, Canada, Latvia and Lithuania are competing for the men's gold medal.
Urban and Wiatr, who were seeded 23rd in the 24-team Main Draw, scored a 15-21, 21-19 and 15-12 win over fifth-seeded Marlen Van Iersel and Margo Wiltens of the Netherlands in 48 minutes to gain a chance of validating their European Beach Volleyball U-18 Championship that they won last month in Myslowice, Poland.
Figueiredo and Solberg Salgado of Brazil also won a "hard-fought" three-setter by posting a 21-18, 20-22 and 15-13 win over third-seeded Florentina Büttner and Julia Sude of Germany, who won the silver medal at the European U-18 finals.
"There is not much difference between us and the Netherlands team," said an exhausted Urban after the semi-final match. "The key was that we played better as the match progressed and made the fewer mistakes at the end. I am glad we have an opportunity for another title this summer."
The Polish pair were playing Van Iersel and Wiltens the second-time this summer as Urban and Wiatr scored a 15-21, 23-21 and 15-11 win over the Netherlands team in the European Championships. Urban and Wiatr defeated Büttner and Sude 21-18, 15-21 and 16-14 in the European U-18 gold medal match.
"That was not an easy match," said Solberg Salgado after the 62-minute match with Germany. "That was our first three-setter of the competition and the Germans did not give up and made us compete hard until the end."
In winning six-straight matches this week, Figueiredo and Solberg Salgado have now advanced to their second-straight FIVB U-18 World Championship gold medal match. The Brazilians dropped the 2003 finale in Thailand to Jana Kohler and Laura Ludwig of Germany (21-11, 30-32 and 15-7).
Solberg Salgado, who placed fourth in the inaugural U-18 event in Greece with Isabel Grael, is the daughter of FIVB women's Beach Volleyball pioneer Isabel Salgado. Carolina's older brother Pedro is a three-time medallist at the FIVB junior Beach Volleyball events.
Pedro Solberg Salgado won the 2002 U-18 title with Ian Borges as the pair placed second last year to Germany's Sebastian Fuchs and Thomas Kaczmarek. Pedro Solberg Salgado teamed with Pedro Cunha to capture the 2003 U-21 title in France.
The FIVB U-18 World Championships concludes Sunday afternoon with the medal matches for both genders.