Women's competition, Marseille
From 13 July To 18 July 2004

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Top Seeds Earn Women's Semi-finals World Series 13 Spots
MARSEILLE, FRANCE, July 16, 2004 - Brazil and the United States, the top two-seeded countries in the eighth annual World Series 13 women's Beach Volleyball event "earned" semi-final berths here Friday afternoon in the US$560,000 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event.

Top-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca of Brazil were the first to advance after a 25-23 and 24-22 victory in 59 minutes over fifth-seeded and 2004 European Champions Nicole Schnyder-Benoit and Simone Kuhn.

Second-seeded Kerri Walsh and Rachel Wacholder of the United States rallied from a first set defeat and a four-point deficit in the deciding set to score a 15-21, 21-17 and 18-16 win over sixth-seeded Eva Celbova and Sona Novakova of the Czech Republic.

Both winners were glad to be finished playing Friday in the second "richest" event on the 2004 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour. "That was exhausting," said Felisberta Silva, who is bidding with Larissa to win back-to-back international gold medals after capturing last week in Mallorca.

"The Swiss did not concede anything and fought to the end," said Felisberta Silva, who will turn 21 next week. "Anytime you have match that close, anyone can win. We are playing our best volleyball right now and we are able to close out tough matches."

Walsh and Wacholder trailed 13-9 in the third and deciding set against the Czech women before scoring five-straight points to take a 14-13 lead. Celbova and Novakova, who are seeking their first career back-to-back "final four" finishes together, had the serve twice for the match, but Walsh and Wacholder were able to score the final three points to win.

"The Czech ladies are a great team that can produce points quickly," said Walsh, who is playing with Wacholder internationally for the second-time due to Misty May's abdominal strain. "Rachel made some big defensive plays and we were able to steady our game. We played very erratic today, but saved some of our best plays for the end."

Both the losing teams in the fourth-round of the winner's bracket still have a chance to advance to Saturday's semi-finals. Celbova and Novakova, who placed third last week in Mallorca, will play the winner of the match between fourth-seeded Annett Davis and Jenny Johnson Jordan of the United States and 16th-seeded Kathrine Maaseide and Susanne Glesnes of Norway.

Schnyder-Benoit and Kuhn, who defeated Maaseide and Glesnes for the European title last month in Germany, will face the winner of the match between 12th-seeded Lucilla Perrotta and Daniela Gattelli of Italy and 17th-seeded Carrie Busch and Nancy Mason of the United States.

The fifth of five-straight mixed gender events on the 2004 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, the World Series 13 continues Saturday with the women's semi-finals and eight more men's matches, including the semi-finals. The SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event ends Sunday where the winning women's and men's teams each split the $41,500 first-place prizes.