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

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Canadians Score First Main Draw Win at Alice Italian Open
Milan, Italy, September 3, 2004 - With the 2004 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour season almost over, Canadians Marie-Andree Lessard and Sarah Maxwell have finally achieved success in an "open" Main Draw bracket after winning their opening match here Friday in the US$180,000 Alice Italian Open.

Seeded 25th in the 32-team women's Beach Volleyball Main Draw, Lessard and Maxwell scored a 17-21, 21-15 and 15-10 win over eighth-seeded Rebekka Kadijk and Marrit Leenstra, who competed last month in the Athens 2004 Olympic Games for the Netherlands.

"I think our gold medal finish last month at a FIVB Challenger in Caglari (Italy) really helped us in winning today," said Maxwell, who saw her and Lessard win a Main Draw match for the first-time this season and the third-time since forming a partnership at the end of the 2002 season.

"Three of our five wins in Caglari were over Olympic-bound teams," Maxwell added. "It proved to us that we can play with the best teams in the world. We struggled early, but we never lost confidence in our ability to compete at this level. The key is winning against the best. Those wins are result of hard work and improved skills. We are so thankful that the FIVB has those challenger events. Those events help lower rated teams to get a chance for some success."

Kadijk and Leenstra were one of 11 Olympic teams from the Athens 2004 Games competing in the Alice Italian Open, which also included four other players that participated in the Greece Olympics that are competing with different partners.

Nine of the 11 Olympic teams won matches in the first-round Friday led by Athens silver medallists Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede. The only head-to-head Olympic pairing in the first round has 16th-seeded Efthalia Koutroumanidou and Vassiliki Arvaniti of Greece defeating 17th-seeded Mayra Garcia and Hilda Gaxiola of Mexico 21-18 and 26-24.

Italian Olympians will be featured in the second round of the winner's bracket as fourth-seeded Lucilla Perrotta and Daniela Gattelli of Italy play 13th-seeded Vasso Karadassiou and Efi Sfyri of Greece. The winner will play either fifth-seeded Renata Ribeiro and Shaylyn Bede of Brazil or the 12th-seeded Nystrom twins (Emilie and Erika) of Finland in a third-round match Saturday.

Ninth-seeded Laura Bruschini and Annamaria Solazzi, who played for Italy in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, face Lessard and Maxwell Friday afternoon with the winner playing either top-seeded Adriana and Shelda or Koutroumanidou and Arvaniti Saturday.

Twenty-four (24) matches remain Friday at three sites around Milan, including the Arco della Pace (Arc of Peace) - Piazza Sempione Centre Court Sixteen (16) teams will advance to Saturday's play to determine the "final four" pairings. Sunday's schedule includes both the semi-final and medal matches as the winning team will share the $27,000 first-place prize.