Gstaad, Switzerland, July 27, 2007 - The women’s “elite eight” for the US$1-million 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Championships powered by 1to1 energy will feature teams from America, Brazil, China and Germany as each country advanced two teams to the quarter-finals here Friday afternoon.
The German teams of Helke Claasen/Antje Roder and Stephanie Pohl/Okka Rau will face the top two-seeded teams in Friday afternoon’s final matches while the Chinese pairs will be challenged by teams from Brazil and the United States for spots in Saturday’s semi-finals.
Claasen and Roder gained a spot in the “elite eight” by defeating German compatriots Rieke Brink-Abeler and Hella Jurich 16-21, 31-29 and 16-14 in 66 minutes. With two wins Saturday, Claasen and Roder will face reigning Olympic and world champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh of the United States for the first semi-final spot.
May-Treanor and Walsh also posted two wins Saturday, including a 21-17 and 21-16 victory over American rivals Tyra Turner and Rachel Wacholder. Friday’s quarter-final meeting will be the first between the two teams as the Americans are seeking to win their third-straight world title after capturing the gold medals in 2003 at Rio de Janeiro and 2005 in Berlin.
Pohl and Rau gained a quarter-final spot opposite of Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca of Brazil by defeating another team from the South American country with a 21-19 and 21-15 victory over Talita Antunes and Renata Ribeiro. Juliana and Larissa lead the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour series with the Germans 6-2, but Pohl and Rau won the last meeting 21-13 and 21-17 at the end of June in Norway.
Second-place finishers to May-Treanor and Walsh at the 2005 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Championships in Berlin, Juliana and Larissa advanced to the quarterfinals with a 21-17 and 21-14 victory over Lu Wang and Man Zuo of China.
The Chinese matches feature the top two teams on the women’s 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour as No. 1-ranked Jia Tian and Jie Wang face the Brazilian Salgado sisters (Carolina and Maria Clara) while No. 2-ranked Chen Xue and Xi Zhang meet Americans Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs. Both Chinese teams have not been defeated by either team in SWATCH matches.
Tian and Jia defeated Vassiliki Arvaniti and Vasso Karadassiou of Greece in their second match Friday 21-14 and 21-19 while Xue and Zhang eliminated Norway’s Susanne Glesnes and Kathrine Maaseide 21-17 and 21-14. The Salgados upset Tamsin Barnett and Natalie Cook of Australia 21-16, 18-21 and 15-12 to advance while Branagh and Youngs posted a 21-19 and 21-15 victory over Dalixia Fernandez and Tamara Larrea of Cuba.
The 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Championships, which also features men’s competition, continues through the weekend. The women’s semi-finals and finals will be played Saturday where the winning team splits the $60,000 first-place prize. The men’s elimination rounds will be played Friday and Saturday followed by the “final four” matches Sunday.