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

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Australian Caribbean Success Saturday
CAROLINA, PUERTO RICO, June 12, 2004 - Andrew Schacht and Joshua Slack opened play here Saturday in the US$180,000 Carolina Open with their second-straight win over a team from the United States as the Australians advanced to the fourth-round of the winner's bracket for the first-time this season.

The No. 2-ranked team from Australia on the Olympic qualifying list behind Julien Prosser and Mark Williams, Schacht and Slack scored a 21-17 and 21-16 win over third-seeded Todd Rogers and Sean Scott. The Aussies earned a spot in one of Saturday's opening matches in the third-round of the winner's bracket by downing sixth-seeded Dax Holdren and Stein Metzger 21-18 and 21-16 Friday.

"They played well against us yesterday," said Holdren, who watched his American rivals before his elimination match with Metzger against a team from Japan. "This is probably their best tournament of the year. They are capable of winning any match against any team on this tour."

Slack felt his team's improvement this week is due to "playing smarter. We have not made a lot of mistakes so far in our first three matches. We were more consistent than the Americans in both matches. I don't know if we are forcing the mistakes, but if we are, we are able to take advantage of our opponent's errors. "

Prior to the sixth-stop of the 2004 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour this week, Schacht and Slack had posted a .500 mark in 10 winner's bracket matches this season. Saturday's opening win also avenged a 25-23 and 21-19 setback to Rogers and Scott in the third-round of the winner's bracket in China.

Seeded 11th on the Balneario de Carolina sand, the Aussies are guaranteed their best finish of the season (a fifth). If Schacht and Slack defeat second-seeded Tande Ramos and Franco Neto of Brazil in their next Saturday, they will earn their first "final four" finish in the last nine events. The two teams have played three times this season with Tande and Franco winning twice.

Playing in their 25th international event together, Schacht and Slack finished third in Portugal last season for their highest placement together. This week's performance also betters the 13th- and 17th-place finishes in the Aussies last two FIVB events in Europe after placing seventh in mid-May at the China stop.

Brazil is guaranteed at least one spot in Sunday's semi-finals when top-seeded Marcio Araujo and Benjamin Insfran play 12th-seeded Pedro Cunha and Pará Ferreira. Sunday's gold medal winners will share the $27,000 first-place prize. After the Caribbean stop this week, the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour returns to Europe for the final four Olympic qualifying events in Switzerland, Germany, Norway and Mallorca.