COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Oct. 9, 2008) - Two U.S. women's beach volleyball teams appear to be on a collision course to meet in the finals at a SWATCH FIVB World Tour event in Dubai.
Top-seeded Kerri Walsh (Saratoga, Calif.) and Nicole Branagh (Orinda, Calif.) won their lone match on Thursday, defeating Marie-Andrée Lessard and Annie Martin of Canada, 21-13, 21-14, in 39 minutes to advance to Friday's semifinal round at Jumeirah Beach Park courts.
With the victory, Walsh and Branagh will meet second-seeded Salgado sisters, Maria Clara and Carolina, of Brazil, with the winner advancing to Saturday's championship match.
While Walsh and Branagh breezed to victory on Thursday, fellow Americans and third-seeded Jen Boss (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) and April Ross (Costa Mesa, Calif.) were also straight-set winners, defeating the Salgado sisters, 21-17, 21-18. The Brazilians won an elimination match to reach the semifinals after falling to Boss and Ross.
Boss and Ross will meet Austrian sisters Doris and Stefanie Schwaiger on Friday in the semifinals. The two teams have met once before in international play, as Boss and Ross were victorious in 2007 at the Austrian Grand Slam in Klagenfurt.
After Thursday's results, Walsh/Branagh and Boss/Ross are both a perfect 4-0 in Dubai.
"After not qualifying for the Olympics, we set our sights on finishing the season with success on both the domestic and international tours," Boss told the FIVB. "Obviously, we were extremely disappointed after being so close to Elaine (Youngs) and Nicole for the second USA berth in Beijing. But we have regrouped and have made it a priority to finish the season strong."
The U.S. team of Lauren Fendrick (Carlsbad, Calif.) and Ashley Ivy (Arlington, Texas) ended its run in Dubai on Thursday. After the team reeled off three straight wins on Wednesday, it dropped a tough three-setter to Geeske Banck and Anja Günther of Germany, 22-20, 23-25, 15-10, and finished the tournament ranked seventh.
Fendrick and Ivy, the tournament's 27th seed, finished with an impressive 4-2 record during the event.
The lone U.S. men's team of Sean Scott (Kailua, Hawai'i) and Nick Lucena (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) were also eliminated on Thursday, falling to Benjamin Insfran and Hevaldo Sabino Moreira of Brazil, 21-19, 19-21, 16-14, to finish in 17th place.
Scott and Lucena finished the tournament with a 1-2 record, however both losses went the full three sets.
Complete results and photos are available on the FIVB beach web site at www.fivb.org/EN/BeachVolleyball/index.asp.