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Brazil’s Juliana & Larissa Clinch Fifth SWATCH FIVB World Tour Title

Larissa Franca (left) and Juliana Felisberta Silva of Brazil won two matches Wednesday at the US$30,000 PAF Open to clinch their fifth SWATCH FIVB World Tour championship.

Mariehamn, Finland, August 18, 2010 - On a dark and damp day on the Isle of Åland, Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca’s “star shined the brightest” as the Brazilians clinched their fifth SWATCH FIVB World Tour championship in the last six years by defeating teams here Wednesday from Finland and the United States at the US$380,000 PAF Open.

PAF Open Women Men
FIVB Beach Volleyball

With wins in their last 37 SWATCH FIVB World Tour matches enroute to winning gold medals over past seven weeks in Norway (Stavanger and Kristiansand), Switzerland (Gstaad), Austria (Klagenfurt) and Poland (Stare Jablonki), Juliana and Larissa are one season championship away from joining two legendary Brazilian pairs in becoming one of the most dominating teams in international Beach Volleyball history.

Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede captured six SWATCH FIVB World Tour championships (1997-2001 and 2004) for Brazil while compatriots Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos almost matched the total by topping the circuit standings for five seasons from 2003 through 2007.  After leading the standings in 2005, 2006 and 2007, Juliana’s right knee injury stymied her team’s effort in 2008 before she and Larissa regained the top spot in 2009.

The only achievements missing from Juliana and Larissa’s highlights are Olympic medals and a world championship title.  Adriana and Shelda were two-time Olympic silver medal winners (2000 and 2004) and two-time world champions (1999 and 2001).  Emanuel and Ricardo netted one world title (2003) and two Olympic medals (2004 gold and 2008 bronze).

The top-seeded Juliana and Larissa opened play Wednesday on the Hotel Arkipelag courts with a 21-8 and 21-14 win in 30 minutes over 32nd-seeded Arminen (Hanna-Mari and Riikka) of Finland before defeating 16th-seeded Angie Akers and Tyra Turner of the United States 21-14 and 21-11 in 34 minutes.  While the Finnish sisters were playing together for the first-time internationally, Juliana and Larissa are now 7-0 against Akers and Turners.

“Winning the point’s championships is always one of our goals at the start of the season,” said the 27-year old Juliana.  “Right now, we are playing our best Beach Volleyball of the season and have been able to meet every challenge.  We are tired right now like all the players due to the travel.  We are thankful that we have a great support staff that helps us to prepare for each tournament.”

Winners of seven gold medals in 10 SWATCH FIVB World Tour appearances this season, Juliana and Larissa are seeking their third PAF Open title.  After winning the inaugural event in 2007 by defeating a Chinese pair, Juliana and Larissa topped the Hotel Arkipelag podium in 2009 by beating Americans Jen Kessy and April Ross in the finale.

Juliana and Larissa will play 24th-seeded Liesbeth Mouha/Liesbet Van Breedam of Belgium in an opening match Thursday with the winner advancing to a quarter-final match Friday against either fourth-seeded Kessy/Ross or 12th-seeded Cristine "Saka" Santanna/Andrezza "Rtvelo" Martins of Georgia.

In the lower half of the PAF Open winner’s bracket, the top-seeded pairs prevailed Wednesday led by Chen Xue and Xi Zhang.  Losers to Juliana and Larissa the past two weeks in SWATCH stops in Poland and Norway, the third-seeded Xue and Zhang will play sixth-seeded Vivian Cunha and Taiana Lima in an opening match Thursday.  The China/Brazil winner will play either second-seeded Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes of Brazil or seventh-seeded Simone Kuhn/Nadine Zumkehr of Switzerland in one of Friday’s other quarter-final matches.

Sixteen other teams remain in the double-elimination competition with one defeat each, including the Nystrom twins (Emilia and Erika) of Finland.  The PAF Open also features men’s competition where the Men’s qualifier played Wednesday alongside the women’s Main Draw.

Competition continues through the weekend with the women’s “final four” matches Saturday followed by the men’s semi-finals and podium placement matches Sunday on the Hotel Arkipelag centre court where the winning teams in both genders will share the $30,000 first-place prizes.


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