|BERLIN, GERMANY, June 26, 2004 - The "morning disappointment" of defeat turned to "afternoon delight" for Holly McPeak and Elaine Youngs as the United States captured the women's bronze medal in the US$600,000 Smart Grand Slam here Saturday.
With a 21-13 and 21-16 win in 38 minutes over ninth-seeded Suzanne Lahme and Danja Müsch of Germany, McPeak and Youngs split the $23,000 third-place prize. The Germans finished the event with a share of $18,500 for their best finish on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour this season.
In the gold medal match, top-seeded Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede of Brazil will be challenged by 12th-seeded Dalixia Fernandez Grasset and Tamara Larrea Peraza of Cuba, who upset the third-seeded McPeak and Youngs 21-18 and 21-16 in the semi-finals. The winner's share $43,000 for first-place prize and the losers depart Berlin with $29,500 for the silver medal finish.
"I am still disappointed that we did not play better this morning," said Youngs after the bronze medal match. "That was the first time Holly and I have faced them as a team together. Give them all the credit for the win. We are delighted with our play against the Germans. They are one of the newer teams on the tour and are very competitive."
Playing in their 20th SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event, McPeak and Youngs have posted 12 podium placements, including five gold medals, three silvers and three bronzes. For the 2004 season, McPeak and Youngs won the international stop in China, placed second in Greece and was also third last week in Switzerland.
Lahme and Müsch, who dropped a 21-14 and 21-16 decision to the Brazilians in their morning semi-final, were competing in their second SWATCH-FIVB World Tour "final four" after losing the gold medal match last season in China. Both teams used their appearance in the semi-finals to improve their Olympic qualifying point totals.
McPeak and Youngs are fourth on the list with 3,076 points for their best eight finishes since January 2003 on the international tour. Lahme and Müsch are ninth on the list with 1,966 points as they trail German rivals Okka Rau and Stephanie Pohl by 92 points entering the final two Olympic qualifying events in Norway and Mallorca.
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.