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  Modena  2006   Women's Open
11.05.2006 -  14.05.2006


Brazilians Claim Top Spot to Start SWATCH-FIVB World Tour

Modena, Italy, May 14, 2006 - It’s the start of the 15th-season on the women’s SWATCH-FIVB World Tour and Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larrisa Franca of Brazil have validated their 2005 points championship by defeating reigning Olympic and World champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh of the United States for the gold medal here Sunday at the US$200,000 Play Station Portable Italian Open on the Foro Boario centre court.


Played on a picture-perfect day with an over-flowing crowd of 3,500 with sprinkling of Brazilian supporters, the second-seeded Juliana and Larissa scored a 21-19 and 27-25 win in 55 minutes over the top-seeded May-Treanor and Walsh to share the $32,000 first-place prize in the season opening event on the 15-stop women’s international tour.


It was the second win in the last three meetings for the young Brazilians over May-Treanor and Walsh.  The two teams split a pair of title matches in Mexico and South Africa as both tandems each won six SWATCH-FIVB World Tour gold medals in 2005.  Overall, the Americans have won six of the eight meetings, including a victory in the finals at the 2005 SWATCH-FIVB World Championships last June in Berlin.


“This one is for our mothers,” said the 22-year old Juliana.  “We have been working hard to beat Misty and Kerri and make ourselves the top team in the world entering the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.  They are such a talented team, but we made the plays to win the match today.  We our almost perfect this season, but we still have a lot of room for improvement.”


In honoring their mothers on Sunday, Larissa also added the SWATCH most outstanding player trophy to her gold medal and assorted gifts from the Italian promoter.  “The Americans are considered the best, but we were better today.  Except for a slow start, we played extremely well.  This was a perfect place to launch our season as the Italians were great host,” the 24-year old Larissa added.  “We look forward to coming back since Italy has been a great place to play for us.”


The win was the second Italian title for Juliana and Larissa as the pair captured the Play Station Portable Italian Open last June in Milan where they defeated Vasso Karadassiou and Vassiliki Arvaniti of Greece in the finals.  The Greeks eventually won the 2005 European Championships in Moscow and also defeated Juliana and Larissa in the Stavanger SWATCH stop.


May-Treanor and Walsh, who defeated the Brazilians in the 2005 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour season finale in Cape Town after losing a three-setter in Acapulco a month earlier, split $22,000 for the silver medal finish.  The Americans are now 21-8 in SWATCH finals with Juliana and Larissa are 8-7.


The Americans jumped to a 10-6 edge in the first set before Juliana and Larissa tied the match at 17-17 and 18-18 before scoring three of the last four points.  In the second set, the Brazilians raced to 6-2, 7-3, 8-4, 11-7, 12-8 and 14-10 leads before May-Treanor and Walsh tied the match at 16-16 on an interference call on Juliana after a long rally.  The Americans served once for match point at 21-20, but Juliana and Larissa were able to regain the advantage at 22-21 and were able to overcome a dig by May-Treanor to put away the second set.


Sunday was not a “good day” for American Beach Volleyball as 22nd-seeded Wang Jie and Tian Jia of China scored a 15-21, 21-18 and 15-11 win over fourth-seeded Rachel Wacholder and Elaine Youngs of the United States to share the $16,000 third-place prize.  Wacholder and Youngs earned $12,000 for placing fourth in the first of 15 women’s events on the SWATCH circuit.


Round two on the women’s SWATCH-FIVB World Tour will be staged May 24-28 in Shanghai where the men open their international season a day earlier.  The SWATCH circuit returns to Europe May 31-June 4 in Athens (women) and Zagreb (men).

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