Women's competition, Osaka
From 2 June To 6 June 2004

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Swiss & Greek Teams Earn "Final Four" Berths
OSAKA, JAPAN, June 5, 2004 - Four different countries will compete for a gold medal at the US$180,000 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event as the tandems of Nicole Schnyder-Benoit/Simone Kuhn of Switzerland and Vasso Karadassiou/Efi Sfyri of Greece won final elimination matches here Saturday on Tannowa Beach.

The third-seeded Schnyder-Benoit and Kuhn face top-seeded Shelda Bede and Adriana Behar in Sunday's first-semi-final followed by the 21st-seeded Greeks challenging second-seeded Natalie Cook and Nicole Sanderson of Australia.

With the $27,000 first-place prize at stake, Sunday's action marks only the ninth-time in 109 women's "open" SWATCH-FIVB World Tour events that four different countries advanced to the "final four." Host Brazil had two teams in the 2004 season opener at Fortaleza while the United States advanced three teams to the Greece semi-final and two tandems to China's "final four" last week in Shanghai.

Sunday's "final four" also features the second semi-final appearance for both the Swiss and Greek teams. Schnyder-Benoit and Kuhn, who are competing in their 33rd SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event, earned a fourth-place in China last year.

Karadassiou and Sfyri only appearance in an "open" final four was at a 2002 event in their home country when they won the bronze medal. Competing in their 62nd SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event together, Karadassiou and Sfyri posted a second and a third in two Greek challenge events.

The Swiss team advanced to Sunday's play with an 18-21, 21-15 and 15-11 win over eighth-seeded Summer Lochowicz and Kerri Pottharst of Australia. Karadassiou and Sfyri gained a spot in the semi-finals with a 22-20 and 21-17 win over sixth-seeded Suzanne Lahme and Danja Musch of Germany.

Shelda and Adriana earned the first semi-final berth Saturday by defeating Karadassiou and Sfyri 17-21, 21-15 and 15-11. The Brazilians have a chance to win their sixth Osaka gold medal in eight Tannowa starts 1997.

After placing third in their Osaka debut in 1997, Shelda and Adriana started their title string in 1998 before having their gold medal streak snapped last August by being defeated in the finals by Brazilian rivals Ana Paula Connelly and Sandra Pires.

Cook and Sanderson advanced to their sixth "final four" in 13 international starts together by defeating Schnyder-Benoit and Kuhn 21-17 and 23-21. The Aussies have teamed for four bronze medals together, including a third-place in last October's FIVB World Championships in Rio de Janeiro.