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

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Norwegian Women Post First-Ever ConocoPhillips Open Wins
STAVANGER, NORWAY, July 1, 2004 - After losing 18-straight matches in the ConocoPhillips Open the past two seasons, two women's teams from host Norway won twice here Thursday to lead the first-round advancers in the Main Draw of the US$360,000 event on the Vaagen Harbour pier courts.

After ninth-seeded Susanne Glesnes and Kathrine Maaseide opened with a 21-12 and 21-17 in 36 minutes over 24th-seeded Lina and Petia Yanchulova of Bulgaria, 10th-seeded Nila Ann Hakedal and Ingrid Torlen enjoyed their first success in Vaagen Harbour with a 21-17 and 22-20 win over 23rd-seeded Helke Claasen and Martina Stoof of Germany.

With their opening win, Glesnes and Maaseide play 25th-seeded Renta Ribeiro and Shylyn Bede of Brazil Thursday afternoon and Hakedal and Torlen will face 26th-seeded Chiaki Kusuhara and Ryo Tokuno of Japan.

"This is exciting," said Hakedal. "This year we're better prepared to play here since we have been competitive on the tour. It wasn't that we were bad teams the past two years; it was more that we were still learning the game against the best players in the world. You have to be patient and play consistent volleyball to win at this level."

Both Norwegian teams are competing against teams from Australia, Bulgaria, Cuba, France, Japan and Mexico for the final six spots for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. Glesnes and Maaseide have now totalled 1,168 points Olympic qualifying points for their best eight finishes on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour since January 2003.

While Glesnes and Maaeide need a 13th-place or better this week to improve their Olympic point total, Hakedal and Torlen's win over the Germans improved their total to 986 points for their best eight placements. A win over the Japanese would add another 72 points to Hakedal and Torlen's total.

Glesnes and Maaseide, who also defeated the Bulgarians last Friday in the German Grand Slam in Berlin, also avenged a 21-16, 21-23 and 15-12 setback to the Yanchulovas in their first match in the 2003 ConocoPhillips Open. The Yanchulovas also defeated Hakedal and Torlen 21-16, 19-21 and 15-10 in one of their opening matches in the 2002 Stavanger event.

"The Nowegians are playing very good volleyball at the right time now with two events left in the qualifying process for the Olympics," said Lina Yanchulova after the match. "This marks the third-straight year that we have played a team from Norway on the opening day of the Main Draw. We were successful the first two times, but today, Susanne and Kathrine played well and took advantage of our mistakes."

Glesnes and Maaseide entered the seventh-stop on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour after placing seventh last week in Berlin where they also upset a team from the United States and Nicole Schnyder-Benoit and Simone Kuhn of Switzerland. The Swiss head defeat the Norwegians for the gold medal match at European Championships three weeks in Germany.

The ConocoPhillips Open is the third of four-straight events in Europe before the July 11 deadline to determine the 24 women's teams for the 2004 Athens Games in August. The Main Draw concludes Saturday when the final two teams compete for the $27,000 first-place prize.