Women's competition, Mallorca
From 6 July To 10 July 2004

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Australia Delight; Bulgarian Relief
SANTA PONSA, MALLORCA, July 9, 2004 - The competition continued here Friday for both Australian Beach Volleyball teams seeking for their country's second and final spot in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games while early morning disappointment turned to afternoon relief for the Yanchulova sisters of Bulgaria.

While fourth-seeded Summer Lochowicz and Kerri Pottharst defeated top-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca of Brazil to earn the first women's semi-final berth in the US$360,000 Mallorca Open, eighth-seeded Angela Clark and Kylie Gerlic remained in the the Olympic chase with their Australia rivals by scoring a 21-19 and 21-11 win over 19th-seeded Ethel-Julie Arjona and Virginie Kadjo of France.

For Lochowicz, the 21-15, 11-21 and 15-12 in 48 minutes over the Brazilians netted her a spot for the first-time in a SWATCH-FIVB World Tour "final four." Pottharst, the two-time Olympic Beach Volleyball medallists, earned her 37th trip to the semi-finals, but her first since the end of the 2002 season.

"We did what we had to this week," said the 26-year old Lochowicz. "We were just awful last week in Norway and played tight. We entered this week not thinking about the Olympics, but concentrating on winning matches. And, this will be my first international semi-final. I'm excited. I will be cashing my biggest pay check and can live for another day."

With two wins Friday, Lochowicz and Pottharst increased their Olympic qualifying point total to 1,284 to move ahead of Clarke and Gerlic's 1,228-point total for their best eight finishes on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour since the start of the qualification process in January 2003.

Clarke and Gerlic can add 36 points with each additional win Friday to move back into the lead, but must advance to the "final four" to stay in contention. Clarke and Gerlic must win two more two matches Friday afternoon to remain in contention for Athens starting with contest against 25th-seeded Renata Ribeiro/Shaylyn of Brazil.

The winner of that match plays second-seeded Susanne Lahme and Danja Musch of Germany, who dropped their first chance for a berth in Saturday's semi-finals by losing 21-16 and 21-14 to 11th-seeded Eva Celbova and Sona Novakova. With the win, Czech Republic team earned their seventh SWATCH-FIVB World Tour "final four" spot and first since the end of the 2003 season.

As both Aussie teams celebrated their wins while preparing for the continuation of their competition for Athens, the French were eliminated from Olympic contention as they needed to win the match to surpass the Yanchulovas (Lina and Petia).

The French had opened play Friday by defeating the 27th-seeded Yanchulovas 22-20, 15-21 and 15-10 before losing to the Aussies. The opening win Friday gave Arjona and Kadjo 1,088 points while the Bulgarians finished the Olympic qualifying process with 1,100 points.

The Yanchulovas also had to await the outcome of the matches for Milagros Crespo and Imara Esteves Ribalta (1,080 final Olympic points). The 21st-seeded Cubans defeated 14th-seeded Vasso Karadassiou/Efi Sfyri of Greece 20-22, 21-14 and 15-12 in their first match Friday before losing 21-19 and 22-20 to seventh-seeded Stephanie Pohl and Okka Rau of Germany.