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

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Swiss & Brazilians Join Alice Italian Open "Final Four" Field
Milan, Italy, September 4, 2004 - Nicole Schnyder and Simone Kuhn are "really thankful" for their quick start here Saturday evening against Daniela Gattelli and Lucilla Perrotta of Italy as the Swiss pair withstood late rallies in both sets to advanced to Sunday's semi-finals in the US$180,000 Alice Italian Open.

Seeded third in the 32-team SWATCH-FIVB World Tour Main Draw, Schnyder and Kuhn used a 10-4 lead in the first set and an 8-1 advantage in the second set to score a 21-19 and 21-18 win in 43 minutes over the fourth-seeded Italians in the next-to-last semi-final qualifying match Saturday.

The final semi-final berth was captured by fifth-seeded Renata Ribeiro and Shaylyn Bede, who scored a 22-20 and 21-19 win in 41 minutes over second-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa France in the All-Brazilian quarter-final match before a standing room-only crowd of more than 5,000 at the Arco della Pace (Arc of Peace) - Parco Sempione Centre Court.

Schnyder and Kuhn will play top-seeded Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede of Brazil in Sunday's first semi-final at 11:30 a.m. Sunday followed by the match between seventh-seeded Eva Celbova and Sona Novakova of the Czech Republic and Ribeiro and Shaylyn. The gold medal match will be played at 4 p.m. with the winning team sharing the $27,000 first-place prize.

"I think we were just tired," said a dejected Gattelli after the match as the Italians were playing their fourth match Saturday compared to the Swiss' third. "Against good teams like the Swiss, you can not get that far behind and expect to win. We gave it our best effort, but we came up short."

For Schnyder and Kuhn, the "final four" appearance makes up for a "disappointing Olympics. We played well only once in three games at Athens," said Kuhn. "We know we are a better team than our showing in the Olympics. This helps make up for not winning a match in Greece."

Kuhn, who will be seeded No. 1 with Schnyder at the Swiss Championships next week in Bern, was "glad for the quick starts. The Italians came on strong at the end of each set. I am glad that we caught fire early in each set as it quieted the crowd. We did not want to play three sets against them."

Schnyder and Kuhn, who are 0-7 against Adriana and Shelda since 2002, have now advanced to third SWATCH-FIVB World Tour "final four" in 39 international starts together. The Swiss, who captured a bronze medal in Japan earlier this season when they were defeated by Adriana and Shelda in the semi-finals, also won June's European Championships in Germany.

Ribeiro and and Shaylyn's semi-final appearance is their first-ever as the pair started their partnership at last year's Alice Italian Open where they placed 25th. Competing in their 14th SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event, Ribeiro and Shaylyn's best previous finishes were fifths. The young Brazilians defeated the Czech's in their only head-to-head meeting at June's Japan event in Osaka.

Adriana and Shelda advanced to the "final four" earlier Saturday with a 21-17 and 21-16 win in 39 minutes over Ribeiro and Shaylyn, Shelda's younger sister. Adriana and Shelda finished second in the inaugural Alice Italian Open when they dropped the final to Jia Tian and Fei Wang of China.

Celbova and Novakova earned a spot in the semi-finals with a 21-10 and 21-17 win in 33 minutes over Schnyder and Kuhn. Competing in their 62nd international event together, the Czechs placed 17th at the inaugural Alice Italian Open in 2003.