Women's competition, Milan
From 1 September To 5 September 2004

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Milan SWATCH-FIVB World Tour Stop Begins "Road to Beijing"
Milan, Italy, August 28, 2004 - It is a "scary" thought to think that the Beach Volleyball competition for the 2008 Olympics Games is less that four years away, but for the younger women's teams on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour the "Road to Beijing" begins here next week with the US$180,000 Milan Open.

The Arco della Pace (Arc of Peace) - Parco Sempione hosts the "elite" women's Beach Volleyball players for the second-straight season. The two-day Qualification Tournament begins Wednesday followed by three days of Main Draw play. The winning team will share the $27,000 first-place prize.

With veteran Brazilians teams of Adriana Behar/Shelda Bede and Ana Paula Connelly/Sandra Pires headlining the field along with other Olympians from the 2000 and 2004 Summer Games, Beach Volleyball fans will be turning their attention to the up-and-coming tandems on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour.

Adriana and Shelda won their second-straight Olympic silver medal at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games after winning their first six matches before losing to Misty May and Kerri Walsh of the United States in the finals. The Americans will not be in Milan due to a domestic commitment in Chicago to help launch their gold medal tour that ends with events in Las Vegas, Honolulu and Santa Barbara.

Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca will be the featured "players of the future" as young Brazilians enter the Milan Open as the No. 4-ranked team on the 2004 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour with $101,000 in earnings together with three podium placements, including a gold medal finish at July's Mallorca event.

"The Brazilians have a strong program in developing younger players," said Holly McPeak, who captured the bronze medal for the United States with Elaine Youngs in Athens. "I remember a young Sandra (Pires) when she started playing on the beach in 1994. Juliana and Larissa are on the same path and have already proven to be players to watch the next four years."

Juliana and Larissa have posted a 40-13 record this season with bronze medal finishes in Brazil and France along with three fifths and a seventh. While Larissa, the bronze medallists at the 2003 Pan American Games, turned 22 in April, Juliana won the Mallorca event 12 days before her 21st birthday.

The young Brazilians are one of three teams to force May and Walsh to three-sets this season as the Americans posted a 26-2 mark on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour this season with both defeats being forfeits at June's Berlin stop when May was forced from the competition due to here lingering abdominal strain problem. The other two teams were Adriana/Shelda and Ana Paula/Pires in Switzerland.

In the opening 2004 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event in March at Fortaleza, Brazil, Juliana and Larissa defeated Jia Tian and Fei Wang of China twice, including a 24-22 and 21-9 bronze medal victory. The Chinese won last year's Milan Open where they defeated Adriana and Shelda in the finals. Due to Fei Wang's knee injury, the Chinese pair will not defend their Milan title.

Although a year or two older that Juliana and Larissa, Brazil's Shaylyn Bede and Renata Ribero are another up-and-coming pair. The two 23-year olds rank 14th on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour with $52,250 in earnings and have posted three top seven finishes in their last four events.

Efthalia Koutroumanidou and Vassiliki Arvaniti of Greece are another young team to watch as the pair placed ninth in Athens. On the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, Koutroumanidou (21 years old) and Arvaniti (19) rank 21st in points and have earned $41,250 together. Here are past Milan results.

Season - Gold, Silver, Bronze, Fourth
2003 - Jia Tian /Fei Wang, China - Shelda Bede/Adriana Behar, Brazil / Nancy Mason/Dianne DeNecochea, United States / Rebekka Kadijk/Marrit Leenstra, Netherlands

2004 SWATCH-FIVB WORLD TOUR WOMEN'S "FINAL FOUR" NOTES

The Athens 2004 Olympic Games were the 11th FIVB World Tour events this season. The season started in March in March at Fortaleza, Brazil. Since mid-May, the women competed nine times in a 11-week span with stops in Greece, China, Japan, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Mallorca, France and Austria. The season's final events is in September at Milan and Rio de Janeiro.
Led by Kerri Walsh, the United States has won eight of the 11 gold medals. Walsh has won six titles, including four with Misty May (Brazil, Greece, Switzerland and Athens) and two with Rachel Wacholder (France and Austria).
Holly McPeak and Elaine Youngs won the other two American gold medals in China and Norway. McPeak and Youngs defeated United States rivals Annett Davis and Jenny Johnson Jordan in both finals.
The United States captured all three podium spots in Norway. Walsh and Wacholder defeated Guylaine Dumont and Annie Martin of Canada for the Stavanger bronze medal.
The fourth-place for Dumont and Martin in Norway marked the first-time that a Canadian women's team advanced to a SWATCH-FIVB World Tour "open final four."
Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede won two gold medals for Brazil in Japan and Germany.
Juliana Felisberta Silva became the youngest player to win an "open" SWATCH-FIVB World Tour women's event with Larissa Franca in Mallorca. Felisberta Silva was 20 years, 10 months and 18 days old when she captured her first Beach Volleyball title.
Of the 33 medals presented this season, the United States has collected 17, followed by Brazil (11), Australia (1), Cuba (1), Germany (1), Switzerland (1) and the Czech Republic (1).
The United States has now compiled 20 "final four" finishes this season. A total of 10 countries have posted "final four" finishes. Other countries top four placements are Brazil (12), Australia (3), China (2), Germany (2), Canada (1), Cuba (1), Czech Republic (1), Greece (1) and Switzerland (1).
Of the 11 gold medal matches, seven have featured two different countries.
The United States had two teams in the gold medal match four times.
Four of the 11 "final fours" have featured teams from four different countries

2004 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour Women's "Final Four"

Brazil, Fortaleza (3/9-14), $180,000 FIVB Event No. 106
1. Misty May/Kerri Walsh, UNITED STATES,, $27,000
2. Shelda Bede/Adriana Behar, BRAZIL, $18,000
3. Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca, BRAZIL, $14,000
4. Tian Jia/Wang Fei, CHINA, $11,000

Greece, Rhodes (5/19-23), $180,000 No. 107
1. May/Walsh, UNITED STATES, $27,000
2. Holly McPeak/Elaine Youngs, UNITED STATES, $18,000
3. Bede/Behar, BRAZIL, $14,000
4. Annett Davis/Jenny Johnson Jordan, USA, $11,000

China, Shanghai (5/26-30), $180,000 No. 108
1. McPeak/Youngs, UNITED STATES, $27,000
2. Davis/Johnson Jordan, UNITED STATES, $18,000
3. Bede/Behar, BRAZIL, $14,000
4. Lu Wang/Whenhui You, China, , CHINA, $11,000

Japan, Osaka (6/2-6), $180,000 No. 109
1. Behar/Bede, BRAZIL, $28,000
2. Natalie Cook/Nicole Sanderson, AUSTRALIA, $18,000
3. Nicole Schnyder-Benoit/Simone Kuhn, SWITZERLAND, $14,000
4. Vasso Karadassiou/Efi Sfyri, GREECE, $11,000

Switzerland, Gstaad (6/15-19), $180,000 No. 110
1. May/Walsh, UNITED STATES, $27,000
2. Behar/Bede, BRAZIL, $18,000
3. McPeak/Youngs, UNITED STATES, $14,000
4. Ana Paula Connelly/Sandra Pires, BRAZIL, $11,000

Germany, Berlin (6/22-26), $300,000 No. 111
1. Adriana/Shelda, BRAZIL, $43,000
2. Dalixia Fernandez Grasset/Tamara Larrea Peraza, CUBA, $29,500
3. McPeak/Youngs, UNITED STATES, $23,000
4. Suzanne Lahme/Danja Musch, GERMANY, $18,500

Norway, Stavanger (6/29-7/3), $180,000 No. 112
1. McPeak/Youngs, UNITED STATES, $27,000
2. Davis/Johnson Jordan, UNITED STATES, $18,000
3. Walsh/Rachel Wacholder, UNITED STATES, $14,000
4. Guylaine Dumont/Annie Martin, CANADA, $11,000

Spain, Mallorca (7/6-7/10), $180,000 No. 113
1. Felisberta Silva/Larissa, BRAZIL, $27,000
2. Lahme/Musch, GERMANY, $18,000
3. Eva Celbova/Sona Novakova, CZECH REPUBLIC, $14,000
4. Summer Lochowicz/Kerri Pottharst, AUSTRALIA, $11,000

France, Marseille (7/13-18), $280,000 No. 114
1. Walsh/Wacholder, UNITED STATES, $41,500
2. Davis/Johnson Jordan, UNITED STATES, $27,500
3. Felisberta Silva/Larissa, BRAZIL, $21,500
4. Carrie Busch/Nancy Mason, UNITED STATES, $16,900

Austria, Klagenfurt (7/28-7/31), $270,000 No. 115
1. Walsh/Rachel Wacholder, UNITED STATES, $40,500
2. Adriana/Shelda, BRAZIL, $27,000
3. Davis/Johnson Jordan, UNITED STATES, $21,000
4. McPeak/Youngs, UNITED STATES, $16,500

Greece, Athens (8/14-24) No. 116
1. May/Walsh, UNITED STATES
2. Adriana/Shelda, BRAZIL
3. McPeak/Youngs, UNITED STATES
4. Cook/Sanderson, AUSTRALIA