|BERLIN, GERMANY, June 26, 2004 - Brazil will have a different challenger for the women's gold medal match than was expected as Cuba's Dalixia Fernandez Grasset and Tamara Larrea Peraza of Cuba upset third-seeded Holly McPeak and Elaine Youngs of the United States here Saturday in the semi-finals of the US$600,000 Smart Grand Slam.
Fernandez Grasset and Larrea Peraza will played second-seeded Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede of Brazil in the Smart Grand Slam title match Saturday afternoon with the winner sharing the $43,000 first-place prize. The loser will depart Berlin with $29,500 for the silver medal finish.
The Brazilians advanced to their 53rd SWATCH-FIVB World Tour finale in 85 international Beach Volleyball starts together earlier Saturday with a 21-14 and 21-16 win in 44 minutes over ninth-seeded Suzanne Lahme and Danja Müsch of Germany.
"The Cubans played very well and keep the pressure on us throughout the match," said Youngs after the match as Fernandez Grasset and Larrea Peraza scored a 21-18 and 21-16 win in 53 minutes. "They are very athletic team that took advantage of our mistakes. Holly and I struggled this morning, but give them all the credit for answering the challenge."
Fernandez Grasset and Larrea Peraza have now advanced to their first gold medal match this season. The Cubans posted a second and fourth last season in Bali and Greece, respectively. Fernandez Grasset and Larrea Peraza, who were playing the Americans for the first-time, have never beaten Adriana and Shelda in six previous matches since 2002.
Adriana and Shelda will be looking for their second title this season after winning June's first event in Japan. The Brazilians, who are the only women's team to play in all six SWATCH-FIVB World Tour "final fours" this season this season, also have two silver (Brazil and Switzerland) and two bronze (Greece and China) medals to their credit in 2004.
The second of five-straight mixed gender events on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, the Smart Grand Slam concludes Sunday with the men's semi-finals and medal match. The international circuit continues the next three weeks with additional mixed gender events in Norway, Mallorca and France.