Stare Jablonki, Poland, June 7, 2008 - For the second-straight week, the United States will have a women's Beach Volleyball team in a SWATCH FIVB World Tour gold medal match as Tyra Turner and Rachel Wacholder defeated the Brazilian Salgado sisters here Saturday morning to advance to the finals of the US$350,000 GE Money Bank Mazury Open.
It will be the first international Beach Volleyball finale for Turner and Wacholder as the Americans posted a 21-19 and 21-16 win in 46 minutes over Carolina and Maria Clara Salgado to earn a spot in the gold-medal match against second-seeded Shelda Bede and Ana Paula Connelly of Brazil. The title winners will share the $28,000 first-place prize.
Attempting to match a gold-medal win this past Sunday by compatriots Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs in Barcelona, Spain, Turner and Wacholder will be challenging Shelda and Ana Paula for the second time in two days after the Brazilians defeated the Americans Friday afternoon 21-16 and 21-18 win in 41 minutes.
Seeking their first SWATCH title after finishing second three weeks ago in Korea, Shelda and Ana Paula advanced to the GE Money Bank Mazury Open medal match by defeating top-seeded Talita Antunes and Renata Ribeiro 21-19 and 21-13 in the 34-minute all-Brazilian semi-final affair.
"We are thrilled to be in the finals, but we are looking to cap things off with a gold medal," said the 31-year old Turner. "Shelda and Ana Paula beat us good yesterday, so we are eager to prove that we are a better team than we showed yesterday. This has been a great weekend at a very beautiful and relaxing site."
The Americans will not have much time to enjoy their GE Money Bank Mazury Open medal finish as Turner and Wacholder have to catch a train Saturday event to Germany for next week's Berlin Grand Slam stop. "Despite our success this weekend, we still must qualify for next week's Main Draw in Berlin,” said Wacholder. "However, winning our second match today is important as we need 60 more points for Olympic qualifying."
With only two teams per country allowed for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Beach Volleyball competition, Turner and Wacholder are the fourth-ranked American women's team for the Summer Games behind Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh, Branagh/Youngs and Jen Boss/April Ross.
A team's best eight SWATCH FIVB World Tour finishes since May 2007 through July 20, 2008 will be used to determine Olympic qualification. The reigning Olympic champions, May-Treanor and Walsh have 5,840 points to top the Beijing list. Branagh and Youngs are sixth (4,140 points) to currently fill the American roster with Boss/Ross and Turner/Wacholder trailing with 3,620 and 3,100 points, respectively.
With the Berlin stop the first of four-straight SWATCH Grand Slam events, the points for the "major" events during Olympic qualifying increase. The winning team at the GE Money Bank Mazury Open will gather 600 points for claiming the gold medal while the Berlin winner will earn 800 points.
"We are still setting our sights on qualifying for the Olympics," said the 32-year-old Wacholder. "Hopefully, we can use this week's effort as a springboard for more success at the coming events in Berlin, Paris, Norway and Moscow. We have a big deficit (1,040 points) to make up to catch Nicole and Elaine. But first, we need to win today against a very experienced team in Shelda and Ana Paula."
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 September 2-7.