Men's competition, Carolina
From 9 June To 13 June 2004

Beach Volleyball Home Page
General Info
Entry List
Main Draw
Press Releases
Wrap Up
Star Profiles
WT 2004 Calendar
Press Kit
Other circuits
Press Releases
Puerto Ricans Face Top American Beach Volleyball Tandem
CAROLINA, PUERTO RICO, June 11, 2004 - After winning their first matches here Friday morning, it'll be Puerto Rico against the United States in a mid-day meeting featuring the top Olympic contenders from both countries in the second round of the winner's bracket in the US$180,000 Carolina Open.

Dain Blanton, the Beach Volleyball gold medallist at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, and Jeff Nygaard of the United States face Puerto Rico's Ramon Hernandez and Raul Papaleo with the winner advancing to the Saturday's play while the loser faces an elimination match later Friday.

Playing in the sixth of 10 Olympic qualifying events for the Beach Volleyball competition 2004 Athens Games on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, the ninth-seeded Puerto Ricans opened with a 21-19 and 21-10 win over 24th-seeded Marcel Gscheidle and Bernhard Vesti of Switzerland.

After missing the last two SWATCH-FIVB World Tour events in European, the eighth-seeded Blanton and Nygaard returned to international competition with a 23-21 and 21-15 win over 25th-seeded Milen Stoyanov and Boris Yankov of Bulgaria.

In the only FIVB meeting between the two teams, Blanton and Nygaard defeated the Puerto Ricans 21-16 and 25-23 last September in Los Angeles. While both Blanton and Nygaard have competed in the Olympics for the United States, Hernandez and Papaleo are bidding to become Puerto Rico's first-ever volleyball Olympians - indoor or on the beach. Blanton won the Sydney gold medal with Eric Fonoimoana while Nygaard played on the United States indoor team in Atlanta and Sydney.

The USA-Puerto Rico will also carry additional importance as both teams seek to improve their point totals on the Olympic qualifying list. Blanton and Nygaard are looking to erase a 17th-place earlier this season in Brazil. The Americans have compiled 2,188 points from their best eight finishes on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour since January 2003 to rank sixth.

Hernandez and Papaleo are currently ranked 19th on the Olympic list entering the final five qualifying events prior to the July 11 cut-off when the 24 men's teams for the Beach Volleyball competition will be decided. With their opening win Friday, Puerto Ricans have already erased their 25th-place finish at the Los Angeles event.

With host Greece and the continent of Africa guaranteed two men's berths in Athens, the Puerto Ricans are in a "tight" race with teams from France, Canada, Austria, Estonia and Russia for the final spots. Hernandez and Papaleo have totalled 920 Olympic qualifying points for their best eight finishes on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour.

A total of 16 countries are represented in the 32-team Main Draw as 16 teams will advance to Saturday rounds. The "final four" teams will be decided after Saturday's 18-match schedule. Sunday morning's semi-final winners will compete later in the afternoon for the $27,000 first-place prize.