Women's Olympic Games, Athens GREECE
From 14 August To 24 August 2004

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Women's Olympic Beach Volleyball Pairings Set
Athens, Greece, August 20, 2004 - Beach Volleyball fans around the world will be watching two women's Athens 2004 Olympic Games matches with interest here Friday as two of the top six-seeded teams face a challenge in the first-round of elimination play.

The second of two opening women's matches will draw the most attention as one of the Olympic gold medallists from the Sydney 2000 Games will be eliminated Friday when Australians Natalie Cook and Kerri Pottharst face each other at 3:30 p.m. with different partners.

Pottharst and Summer Lochowicz advanced from pool play with three wins and a sixth-seed in the Round of 16. Cook and Nicole Sanderson were upset in pool play and lost their fifth-seed to drop into a draw for their elimination bracket spot. The winner will play either a team from Germany or Italy in the quarterfinals Sunday with the loser placing ninth.

Like Cook and Sanderson, Ana Paula Connelly and Sandra Pires lost their third-seed in the competition by losing Thursday to Suzanne Lahme and Danja Musch of Germany. The "luck" of the draw saw the Brazilians drop into the bottom quarter of the bracket where they play Vasso Karadassiou and Efi Sfyri of Greece at 10 p.m. Friday.

To make things more difficult for Ana Paula and Pires is the potential match up in the quarterfinals against Brazilian rivals Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede. That is if Ana Paula and Pires can beat the Greeks while Adriana and Shelda eliminate the Yanchulova sisters (Lina and Petia) from Bulgaria.

In addition to Adriana and Shelda, the only other top-ranked teams to protect their seed were the American tandems of Misty May/Kerri Walsh (No. 1) and Holly McPeak/Elaine Youngs (No. 4). Stephanie Pohl and Okka Rau used their win over Cook and Sanderson to net the fifth-seed where they also face Vasiliki Arvaniti and Efthalia Koutroumanidou of Greece.

Arvaniti and Koutroumanidou earned the last spot in the the Round of 16 by defeating Nila-Ann Hakedal and Ingrid Tolen 21-11, 21-23 and 15-12 in the final pool play match of the preliminary schedule before more than 9,000 fans at the Olympic Beach Volleyball Centre Thursday evening.

The women's semi-finals are set for Monday with the medal matches the next day as one of the 2000 Sydney winners will see their hopes for a third Olympic Beach Volleyball end Friday afternoon under the sun in Athens.