Women's competition, Rio de Janeiro
From 20 September To 25 September 2004

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Brazilian Women Claim Four Beach Volleyball Semi-Final Berths
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, September 23, 2004 - For the first-time in 118 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour events for women, one country has advanced four teams to the semi-finals as host Brazil scored the "first" here Thursday in the US$360,000 Banco do Brasil Women's Open.

Top-seeded Adriana Behar/Shelda Bede and third-seeded Ana Paula Connelly/Sandra Pires, the Brazilian Olympic tandems from the Athens 2004 Summer Games, earned the first two spots after winning all four of their matches in the competition, including two by each team Thursday.

The South American country was also guaranteed to capture the last two "final four" berths as the last two matches in Thursday's contender's bracket were All-Brazilian affairs marking the first-time a nation has captured the top six spots in SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event.

Adriana and Shelda will play 29th-seeded Mônica Paludo/Angela Vieira in Friday's first semi-final. Ana Paula and Pires challenge second-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca, who won SWATCH-FIVB World Tour title earlier this season in Mallorca.

Maria Rufino Salgado and Carolina Solberg Salgado, a seventh Brazilian team in the competition, placed ninth after being eliminated by 2004 European Champions Nicole Schnyder and Simone Kuhn of Switzerland. Mônica Paludo and Vieira ousted the Swiss in the next match before Felisberta Silva and Larissa eliminated the final non-Brazilian team (Daniela Gattelli and Lucilla Perrotta of Italy) in the competition.

The Brazilian men still have a chance to fill all four semi-final berths in the mixed gender event as they still have six teams left in the competition entering Friday's 18-match schedule with five tandems posting 2-0 marks Thursday. The Brazil men have twice claimed all four semi-final spots (Puerto Rico 1996 and Turkey 1997) in 161 previous SWATCH-FIVB World Tour events.

"That would be a great way for us to end the international season," said Adriana when asked Wednesday about the chances of Brazilians filling all four semi-final berths. "We take our Beach Volleyball very serious and compete hard all the time for medals."

At the expense of Shelda's younger sister, the two-time Olympic silver medallists advanced to the semi-finals with a 21-13 and 21-18 win over fourth-seeded Shaylyn Bede and Renata Ribeiro. Ana Paula and Pires scored a 21-9 and 21-15 win over 10th-seeded Alexandra Fonseca and Mônica Rodrigues to earn a "final four" berth.

Second-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca, who lost to Alexandra and Mônica 21-18 and 21-18 in their first match Thursday, rebounded with three-straight elimination wins to advance to the semi-finals after posting a 21-16 and 21-12 victory over Shaylyn and Ribeiro.

Mônica Paludo and Vieira, who posted six-straight elimination bracket wins after losing to Shaylyn and Ribeiro in Wednesday's opening round, advanced to the "final four" with a 21-19 and 22-20 win over Alexandra and Mônica. Playing in only their second event together, Mônica Paludo and Vieira placed 57th in the 2004 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour season opener in Fortaleza, Brazil.