|BERLIN, GERMANY, June 25, 2004 - For the seventh-time in their last eight meetings with Holly McPeak and Elaine Youngs, Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede of Brazil defeated their third-seeded American rivals by winning the last two sets of their match here Friday in the US$600,000 Smart Grand Slam.
Playing in a light rain, the second-seeded Brazilians rebounded from a 21-18 setback to McPeak and Youngs in the first set to capture the next two sets 21-17 and 15-11 in the 61-minute semi-final qualifying match in the women's SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event.
With four-straight Beach Volleyball wins this week, Adriana and Shelda have now advanced to an "final four" for the 78th-time in 85 international starts together. The Brazilians, who have a 7-5 match mark against McPeak and Youngs, have now advanced to six-straight semi-finals this season with one gold (Japan), two silver (Brazil and Switzerland) and two bronze (Greece and China) to their credit.
"We changed our serving strategy in the final two sets," said Adriana about her team's plans in winning the final two sets. "Shelda made some big plays and we were able to convert those efforts into points. All our matches with Holly and Elaine are close. We are also happy to be able to play only one match today with these weather conditions."
In addition to the win, Adriana and Shelda are now the No. 2-ranked team in the world on the Olympic qualifying list. Misty May and Kerri Walsh, who have defeated Adriana and Shelda twice in SWATCH-FIVB World Tour finals in Brazil and Switzerland, this season are atop the rankings with 3,960 points.
With a guaranteed 420 points for finishing fourth or better in the Smart Grand Slam, Adriana and Shelda have moved ahead of Brazilian rivals Ana Paula Connelly and Sandra Pires by two points (3,476 to 3,474) with two more events left in the Olympic qualifying process in Norway and Mallorca.
"We are disappointed that Sandra could not compete this week due to her injury (calf), but we are looking to get the best possible seed in Athens," added Adriana, who won the silver medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games with Shelda. The pair also won the 1999 and 2001 FIVB World Championships before being dethroned last October by May and Walsh in Rio de Janeiro.
Friday's first women "final four" qualifier was 12th-seeded Dalixia Fernandez Grasset and Tamara Larrea Peraza. The Cubans scored a 21-12 and 21-14 win in 35 minutes over the ninth-seeded Suzanne Lahme and Danja Müsch.
Both the German and American losers still have a chance to advance to the "final four" with victories in the finals of the elimination bracket Friday afternoon. The "final four" teams will be playing for the $43,000 first-place prize Saturday afternoon.