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

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South Africans Overcome Frustration; Notch First 2004 Victory
STAVANGER, NORWAY, June 29, 2004 - It was becoming frustrating for Julie Willand as she and Leigh-Ann Naidoo head to the 2004 Athens Olympic Games as a representative for both South Africa and the African Confederation in the Beach Volleyball competition.

After failing to win a match in six starts on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour this season, Willand and Naidoo finally scored a win during the opening Qualification rounds of the US$180,000 ConocoPhillips here Tuesday by eliminating 16th-seeded Krisztina Nagy and Anita Petho of Hungary 15-21, 21-13 and 19-17 in 48 minutes.

"Yes, we have been frustrated as we what to prove to everyone that we belong in the Olympics," said Willand. "We finished last season with a ninth and a 17th in two of our last three events. "We were excited to get the season started and felt pretty confident that we could succeed. However, we had not won anything this season until today."

Nagy and Petho had defeated the South Africans in their previous two meetings, including a 21-19 and 22-20 win in Berlin last Tuesday. "We had our chances last week, but we could not make the plays at the end of the match. Today was different as we were able to close out the final two sets. What a relief."

It does not get any easier for Willand and Naidoo as they face Vassiliki Arvaniti and Efthalia Koutroumanidou of Greece, the top-seeded tandem in the 43-team Qualification Tournament that will determine the final 10 spots in the 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 South Africans learned about a berth in the Olympics for Africa from a friend from Germany. "She told us to look qualification process and thought we would have a chance," Willand added. "We are taking time-off from our regular jobs to get this done. I think our participation for our country and continent will mean a lot for women in our region. We're excited, but still anxious to perform at this high level. Nothing comes easy as we play the best beach volleyball teams in the world."