Stare Jablonki, Poland, June 6, 2008 - Without entering the US$350,000 GE Money Bank Mazury Open, the top-ranked team on the SWATCH FIVB World Tour had an impact on this week's international Beach Volleyball event as a pair of Brazilians earned the first two "final four" berths here Friday afternoon.
With three-time points' champions Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca taking a week off before playing in four-straight FIVB Grand Slam events, the 12th-seeded Salgado sisters (Carolina and Maria Clara) advanced to their second SWATCH semi-final Friday along with Brazilian compatriots and second-seeded Shelda Bede and Ana Paula Connelly.
As the fourth-ranked team from Brazil in terms of entry points, the Salgado sisters usually have to play Country Quota and qualifying matches to earn a spot in a SWATCH FIVB World Tour Main Draw. But with Juliana and Larissa in Brazil this week, Carolina and Maria Clara avoided the preliminary rounds with an automatic spot in the "money" rounds.
With a 21-15, 23-25 and 15-12 win in 66 minutes over top-seeded Talita Antunes and Renata Ribeiro, the Salgados posted their fourth win in seven SWATCH matches against their Brazilian rivals. Talita and Renata still have an opportunity for a semi-final spot in a match against seventh-seeded Rieke Brink-Abeler and Hella Jurich of Germany later Friday.
Shelda and Ana Paula advanced to their fourth SWATCH "final four" in seven FIVB starts together with a 21-16 and 21-18 win in 41 minutes over sixth-seeded Tyra Turner and Rachel Wacholder of the United States. Turner and Wacholder will get a second chance Friday afternoon for a semi-final berth in a match with fifth-seeded American rivals Jen Boss and April Ross.
"Without having to play those extra two days, we are feeling a lot fresher this week," said the 25-year old Maria Clara. "Along with the Hotel Anders being a very relaxing setting, the competition format has been good with our first four matches spread over the first three days of competition. If Juliana and Larissa were here this week, we would have played seven matches in four days to reach the semi-finals."
The last time Carolina and Maria Clara reached a SWATCH FIVB World Tour semi-final was in the 2005 season finale in November in South Africa where the Brazilian sisters defeated Talita and Renata for the bronze medal 26-24 and 31-29 in a 69-minute third-place match in Cape Town.
With GE Money Bank Mazury Open being their 47th SWATCH event together, the Salgados have been defeated 19 times in Country Quota playoff matches and failed to advance from a qualifier once. The Salgado's mother (Isabel) has also earned six SWATCH FIVB World Tour podium placements with a 1994 gold medal with Roseli Timm at an event in Miami.
As a family, the Salgados have amassed 17 FIVB medals as Isabel's son Pedro has won six SWATCH titles, including three this season with Harley Marques. Pedro and Harley, who are seeded third this week in the men's competition, will be competing Saturday for a GE Money Bank Mazury Open semi-final berth starting with a match against second-seeded David Klemperer and Eric Koreng of Germany.
The winner of the USA match will play the Salgados while the victors from the Talita/Renata and Brink-Abeler/Jurich contest will be in the semi-finals opposite of Shelda and Ana Paula. The women's GE Money Bank Mazury Open medal matches will be played Saturday afternoon as the gold-medal team will share the $28,000 first-place prize.
The fourth double gender event on the 2008 SWATCH FIVB World Tour calendar, the men's GE Money Bank Mazury Open semi-finals and medal matches will be played Sunday on the Hotel Anders centre court. With the resort on Szelag Maly Lake hosting a men's event for the fifth-straight year, the women's competition is the first as the previous two Polish stops were held the past two years in Warsaw. A second women's event in Poland will be held in Myslowice through September 2-7.