|Termoli, Italy, September 9, 2004 - For the Brazilian National Champions, this week's FIVB World Championships for women's players under 18 years old starting is "very important" as Carolina Solberg Salgado and Barbara Figueirado won their opening two pool play matches here Thursday on the Rio Vivo Beach.
Solberg Salgado and Figueirado "like the chance" to compete against international players after gaining most of their Beach Volleyball experience against other Brazilians. "I think you learn a lot about your game when you play against teams from other countries," said Figueirado. "The competition level is very high in our country, but we still like to see how we compare with the rest of the world."
Seeded second in the 24-team Main Draw that features six pools of four teams each, Salgado and Figueirado scored wins over 23rd-seeded Katarzyna Urban and Joanna Wiatr of Poland and (21-13 and 21-17) and 14th-seeded Bianca Gasser and Christine Purtscheller of Austria (21-8 and 21-10). Urban and Wiatr are the reigning U-18 European Champions.
The young Brazilians now play 11th-seeded Sandra Escobedo and Rosario Reyes of Mexico. After winning their first match Thursday against Gasser and Purtscheller (21-17 and 22-20), the Mexians dropped a 21-15 and 21-15 decision to Urban and Wiatr.
A fourth- and second-place finisher in the first-two U-18 FIVB events in Greece and Thailand, 17-yeard old Solberg Salgado is playing with Figueirado for the second-straight year as the pair dropped last year's U-18 gold medal match to Jana Kohler and Laura Ludwig of Germany 21-11 and 32-30.
"Our goal is to win the gold this year," said Solberg Salgado, who is the daughter of FIVB women's Beach Volleyball pioneer Isabel Salgado. "Mama" Isabel never finished lower than fifth in the first nine SWATCH-FIVB World Tour events (1992-95). "Mom helps us a lot. We are very lucky to have her working with the young players in Brazil," said an appreciative daughter.
Third-seeded Florentina Büttner and Julia Sude of Germany, who won the silver medal at the 2004 European U-18 Championships, won a pair of matches Thursday, including a 21-18, 19-21 and 15-13 win over 22nd-seeded Carolina Aragao and Clarisse Peixoto of Brazil. The Germans, who defeated 15th-seeded Georgia Terzoglou and Foteini Tsantopoulou of Greece 21-11 and 21-11, conclude Pool C play Friday against 10th-seeded Milady Bozzato and Enrica Merlo of Italy.
The final 12 women's pool play matches will be played Friday to determine the field for the 16-team elimination bracket. The first-round and quarter-finals in the mixed gender event will be play Saturday to determine the "final four" teams. Play concludes Sunday with the semi-finals and medal matches.