Stare Jablonki, Poland, June 5, 2008 - It was successful day for Beach Volleyball power Brazil on the Hotel Anders courts at the US$350,000 GE Money Bank Mazury Open as four women's teams from the South American country combined to win five matches here Thursday.
The teams of top-seeded Talita Antunes/Renata Ribeiro, second-seeded Shelda Bede/Ana Paula Connelly and the 12th-seeded Salgado sisters (Carolina and Maria Clara) captured their only matches Thursday to advance to the quarter-finals of the winner's bracket as Brazil is now guaranteed a "final four" berth in their sixth-straight event on the 2008 SWATCH FIVB World Tour.
In the contender's bracket, 23rd-seeded Maria Antonelli and Leao Vanilda placed 13th in the competition with a win over a team from Finland before being eliminated 21-17 and 21-17 by 17th-seeded Dalixia Fernandez Grasset and Tamara Larrea Peraza of Cuba For the GE Money Bank Mazury Open, the Brazilians have now compiled an 11-2 record at the sixth women's SWATCH FIVB World Tour this season.
Talita and Renata, who captured the Chinese SWATCH stop this season in Shanghai along with a pair of silver medal finishes in Australia and last week in Spain, will play the Salgados on Friday afternoon with the winners advancing to Saturday's semi-finals. The Salgados lead the FIVB series between the two teams at 3-2, but Talita and Renata won a 21-18 and 22-20 decision over their Brazilian rivals last week in Barcelona.
Shelda and Ana Paula, a silver medal winner last month in Korea, face sixth-seeded Tyra Turner and Rachel Wacholder of the United States in the other winner's bracket match to determine the second GE Money Bank Mazury Open "final four" berth. It will be the first SWATCH meeting between the two teams as both pairs are looking to better their points for Olympic consideration.
With both Brazil and the United States expected to fill two berths each at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, the teams of Shelda/Ana Paula and Turner/Wacholder are currently the fourth-ranked team on their country's Summer Games list. With each additional GE Money Bank Mazury Open win this week, each team will increase their Olympic bid by at least 60 points.
The Beach Volleyball pairs of Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh (5,840 points) and Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca (5,240) have all but secured Beijing berths for the United States and Brazil, respectively. May-Treanor and Walsh are the reigning Olympic and three-time SWATCH FIVB World champions. Juliana and Larissa have won the last three SWATCH FIVB World Tour season point's titles.
Talita and Renata are the second-ranked Brazilian team on the Olympic list with 4,320 points for their best eight finishes on the SWATCH FIVB World Tour since the start of the Beijing process in May 2007. The Salgados have 2,800 points for their best eight FIVB finishes while Shelda and Ana Paula have compiled 2,760 points for only seven SWATCH starts together.
Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs, who won last week's Spanish SWATCH stop in Barcelona, are the second-ranked American team with 4,140 points with Jen Boss/April Ross third (3,580) and Turner/Wacholder compiling 2,920 points for their best eight FIVB finishes since May 2007.
In addition to Fernandez Grasset and Larrea Peraza, seven other teams remain in contention for the GE Money Bank Mazury Open gold medal with one defeat each. Friday's schedule opens with elimination matches featuring teams from Austria, Belgium, Cuba, Germany, Greece, Norway and the United States.
Fernandez Grasset and Larrea Peraza will play fourth-seeded Vasso Karadassiou and Vassiliki Arvaniti of Greece while 24th-seeded Kathrine Maaseide and Susanne Glesnes of Norway challenge fifth-seeded Jen Boss and April Ross of the United States. The winners from those two matches will play each other later Friday.
Seventh-seeded Rieke Brink-Abeler and Hella Jurich of Germany plays 13th-seeded Milagros Crespo and Imara Esteves Ribalta of Cuba in another opening elimination match Friday while the 15th-seeded Schwaiger sisters (Doris and Stefanie) face 19th-seeded Liesbet Van Breedam and Liesbeth Mouha of Belgium. The winner of those two matches will play each other later Friday.
The fourth double gender event on the 2008 SWATCH FIVB World Tour calendar, the women's GE Money Bank Mazury Open concludes Saturday with the men's medal matches Sunday. The winning teams will share the $28,000 first-place prizes as the Hotel Anders hosts an international Beach Volleyball event for the fifth-straight year.