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Jul 05 Silver Medal Means Golden Ticket

July 05, 2008, 4:noon (ET)

B.J. Evans
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: 719-228-6800
E-Mail: bj.evans@usav.org   

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 5, 2008) – A second-place finish at the US$600,000 Moscow 2008 Grand Slam was good enough to send the U.S. beach volleyball team of Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs to the Olympic Games in Beijing.

With a 21-17, 21-14 semifinal win in 37 minutes over fourth-seeded Brazilians Talita Antunes and Renata Ribeiro, Branagh (Orinda, Calif.) and Youngs (El Toro, Calif.) added another 160 points to their Olympic qualifying total for their best eight finishes on the SWATCH FIVB World Tour since May 2007.  The win eliminated compatriots Jen Boss (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) and April Ross (Costa Mesa, Calif.) from Beijing consideration.

Branagh and Youngs have 4,540 qualifying points and Boss and Ross, who placed ninth in Moscow, could not overtake them with a gold-medal finish at the final qualifying event in Marseille, France (July 15-20).

“What a relief,” said Branagh.  “It has been a grueling process with four American teams competing for two Olympic berths. I had a knot in my stomach throughout the second set with Talita and Renata. I am going to enjoy the next few hours before playing the Chinese. This is a very special moment and one that I will remember forever.”

 In the final, top-seeded Branagh and Youngs fell to China’s sixth-seeded Chen Xue and Xi Zhang, 8-21, 18-21 in 42 minutes. China’s second-seeded Jia Tian and Jie Wang defeated Atunes and Ribeiro for the bronze medal, 21-16, 23-21.

With two podium finishes in Moscow, China will have two of the top six seeded teams when Olympic pool play opens in Beijing on Aug. 9, led by projected No. 1-seeded Tian Jia and Wang. Although Misty May-Treanor (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and Kerri Walsh (Santa Clara, Calif.) lead all teams in Olympic qualifying points, the FIVB has determined that if a team from the host country finishes among the top six teams in the Olympic rankings, the team will assume the No. 1 seed. May-Treanor and Walsh are projected to be ranked second.

In the men’s bracket, the U.S. team of Phil Dalhausser (Ormond Beach, Fla.) and Todd Rogers (Santa Barbara, Calif.), ranked No. 1, has advanced to Sunday’s semifinal round and has also put itself in position to be the top-seeded men’s team in Beijing.

Dalhausser and Rogers got two wins Saturday over teams from Brazil and Russia to gain the top-spot on the Summer Games’ provisional list over Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos of Brazil, the Athens 2004 gold medal winners.

With the third-seeded Emanuel and Ricardo finishing fifth in Moscow, Dalhausser and Rogers netted an additional 80 points by advancing to Sunday’s first semifinal match against third-seeded Julius Brink and Christoph Dieckmann of Germany.  The Americans have 5,540 for their eight best SWATCH FIVB World Tour finishes since May 2007 with Emanuel and Ricardo totaling 5,500 points.

The 2007 SWATCH FIVB World Champions, Dalhausser and Rogers opened play Saturday morning with a 21-18, 21-15 victory in 48 minutes over 2005 world champions and 14th-seeded Marcio Araujo and Fabio Magalhaes of Brazil. It was only the second win for the U.S. team over Marcio Araujo and Fabio in seven SWATCH FIVB World Tour matches.

Dalhausser and Rogers ended Saturday with a 21-16, 21-14 win in 41 minutes over ninth-seeded Igor Kolodinsky and Dmitri Barsouk of Russia, the same team it defeated to win the 2007 world championship.

Dalhausser and Rogers will be seeking to extend their SWATCH FIVB World Tour winning streak to 20-straight matches.  The Americans last defeat was in the Berlin final to Emanuel and Ricardo as Dalhausser and Rogers won the next two stops in Paris and Norway.

The winner of Sunday’s first semifinal will face the victor of Sunday’s second semifinal match between fifth-seeded David Klemperer and Eric Koreng of Germany and fourth-seeded Penggen Wu and Linyin Xu of China. 

The U.S. men’s team of Matt Fuerbringer (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and Casey Jennings (Las Vegas, Nev.) were eliminated in the second round on Saturday by Emanuel and Ricardo, 21-19, 21-23, 10-15.

Complete results, photos and more information are available on the FIVB beach Web site at www.fivb.org/EN/BeachVolleyball/index.asp.

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