Women's competition, Stavanger
From 29 June To 3 July 2004

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Unpredictable Stavanger Weather & Beach Volleyball Tour
STAVANGER, NORWAY, June 27, 2004 - As unpredictable as the weather is in this southwestern Norwegian port city, the women's SWATCH-FIVB World Tour has become very unpredictable entering the US$360,000 ConocoPhillips Open, the next-to-last Olympic qualifying event for the 2004 Athens Games.

The "unpredictability" on the women's SWATCH-FIVB World Tour was created a week before the ConocoPhillips Open when the two teams that competed for the 2003 Stavanger gold medals withdrew from the German stop due to injuries. Brazil's Ana Paula Connelly and Sandra Pires defeated Misty May and Kerri Walsh of the United States in last July's Norwegian gold medal match.

The Brazilian women are not expected to play in the next three SWATCH-FIVB World Tour events as Pires is hampered by a calf injury. After losing a semi-final match in Switzerland to May and Walsh, Pires withdrew from the bronze medal match. After three days of rehab, the two-time Brazilian Olympic medal winner decided to forfeit her matches with Ana Paula in Berlin.

May is currently hampered by an abdominal strain. She initially hurt herself during a domestic semi-final match June 6 with Walsh in Southern California. After skipping the next event in San Diego (June 12-13), May returned to action in Switzerland where she and Walsh won their seventh-straight SWATCH-FIVB World Tour title. After playing her first match in Berlin, May retired from the event.

Norway's Susanne Glesnes and Kathrine Maaseide enter the seventh-stop on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour after placing seventh last week in Berlin where they defeated teams from Bulgaria, the United States and Switzerland to post a 300-point finish in the Smart Grand Slam event.

With the seventh-place for the Norwegians best finish this season, Glesnes and Maaseide moved ahead country rivals Nila Ann Hakedal and Ingrid Torlen for a spot in the Olympics. Glesnes and Maaseide have now totalled 1,160 points Olympic qualifying points for their best eight finishes on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour since January 2003. Hakedal and Torlen's best eight placements have netted them 974 total points.

The seventh-stop on the 2004 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, the US$360,000 ConocoPhillips Open will feature women's competition for the third-straight year after starting the event in 1999 with the first of five years of men's play.

Women's competition begins Tuesday (June 29) with the first of two days of qualifying to determine the final eight berths in the 32-team Main Draw. The "money" rounds begin Thursday and conclude Saturday with the gold medal match where the winners shared the $27,000 first-place prize.

The Stavanger motto is simply to "enjoy life" among the Fjords, mountains, sophisticated city life and a multicultural population. But, it will be a pressured-pack ConcoPhillips Open for the world's top women's Beach Volleyball players as they compete for spots in the Athens Games.

PAST STAVANGER WOMEN'S PODIUM PLACEMENTS

Year - Gold Medal / Silver Medal / Bronze Medal
2002 - Holly McPeak/Elaine Youngs, United States / Natalie Cook/Kerri Pottharst, Australia / Adriana Behar/Shelda Bede, Brazil
2003 - Ana Paula Connelly/Sandra Pires, Brazil / Misty May/Kerri Walsh, United States / Adriana Behar/Shelda Bede, Brazil