Porto Santo, Madeira, July 25, 2003 - Australians Natalie Cook and Nicole Sanderson on Friday emerged winners of the Porto Santo Line/TMN International Tournament when they finally wore down a strong challenge from Bulgarian sisters Lina and Petia Yanchulova in a packed stadium here on this island paradise.
"This exhibition was very important for us to get some games," said Olympic champion Cook. "The place is marvelous!"
Cook praised the tournament organization and said it had been excellent preparation for next week's Swatch-FIVB World Tour Grand Prix in Austria.
In other action to settle third place Brazilians Shaylin and Renata and Canadians Sarah Maxwell and Anne-Marie Lessard also delivered a crowd thriller match that finally fell in the tiebreaker to the Brazilians.
Cook and Sanderson also had to fight fiercely to win their match. They were trailing 17-19 in the first set but managed to break the Yanchulova sisters' cold focus. This, coupled with great digs by Cook and powerful attacks by Sanderson, allowed them to storm past the Bulgarians and close the set 21-19.
Lina and Petia Yanchulova fought back strongly and took the second set 21-19 to force the tiebreaker but then the Australians turned up the heat and ran off eventual winners at 15-11.
Brazilians Shaylin and Renata had a shaky start in their match for third while Canadians Maxwell and Lessard shut out their attacks and served with accuracy and consistency to snap up the first set 21-15.
Shaylin and Renata then managed to reverse the trend. They imposed a strong rhythm, which allowed them to win by 21-13, thanks to Shaylin's spectacular shots, defense and transition plays and incredible blocks by Renata.
By then unstoppable, the Brazilians allowed the Canadians only nine points in the decider.
" We are not satisfied with today's performance, of course, but we were happy to have a chance to practice our game," a disappointed Maxwell said of the match. The Canadian pair now return to Europe to face the qualification tournament of the Swatch-FIVB Grand Slam in Klagenfurt, Austria, next Thursday.
Friday's matches wound up a very successful tournament organized by Madeira's Volleyball Association and one that players will remember as well run, well attended and held in the perfect island setting here in Madeira.
Final Tournament Standings
1, Cook-Sanderson (AUS); 2, Yanchulova-Yanchulova (BUL); 3, Shaylin- Renata (BRA); 4, Maxwell-Lessard (CAN)