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24.06.2008 - Brazil’s Juliana & Larissa Continue Winning Ways at Grand Slam presented by SEAT

Moscow, Russia, June 9, 2010 – In an off-year where no world championship will be contested or points earned for qualifying for the London 2012 Olympic Games, the main story-line for each women’s SWATCH FIVB World Tour event will start with the quest for Brazil’s Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca to become the winningest team in international Beach Volleyball history.

Starting with this week’s US$600,000 Grand Slam presented by SEAT on the Poklonnaya Gora (Victory Park) courts, Juliana and Larissa are four gold medals short of tying the SWATCH FIVB World Tour record for team titles set in 2008 by American Olympic and world champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh at 35.

The top-seeded Juliana and Larissa started their quest for another gold medal in Russia here Wednesday by scoring a 21-11 and 21-13 win in 28 minutes over 32nd-seeded Judith Flores Yalovaya and Alexandra Shiryaeva of Russia in an opening Pool A match.  The Brazilians will conclude group action Thursday with matches against 17th-seeded Barbara Hansel/Sara Montagnolli of Austria and 16th-seeded Lenka Hajeckova Felbabova/Hana Klapalova of the Czech Republic.

The Grand Slam presented by SEAT marks Juliana and Larissa’s fifth SWATCH appearance in Russia as the pair captured gold medals in 2005, 2006 and 2007 at St. Petersburg before topping the 2009 Moscow podium.  The Brazilians missed the 2008 stop in the Russian capital as Juliana was sidelined with a right knee injury that forced her out of the Beijing Olympic Games where Larissa finished fifth with Ana Paula Connelly after being eliminated by May-Treanor and Walsh.

With their win Wednesday, Juliana and Larissa are now 26-1 in Russia with an 11-match winning streak with their last setback being to Americans Jen Kessy and April Ross in a 2007 St. Petersburg quarter-final match.  Two days later, the Brazilians avenged the loss with a victory over Kessy and Ross in the gold medal match.

Juliana and Larissa tied legendary Brazilians Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede (1995-2007) for the third spot on the list for most team SWATCH titles with their 31st FIVB gold medal two weeks ago in Korea where they defeated Americans Angie Akers and Tyra Turner in the Seoul finale.  Compatriots Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos (2002-2009) have 34 FIVB gold medals to their credit to top the men’s list, including 33 SWATCH gold medal finishes.

A silver medal finish or better this week will also move Juliana and Larissa into the No. 2 spot on the FIVB earnings list.  With $1,834,850 in earnings for 76-plus events, Juliana and Larissa currently rank behind Adriana/Shelda ($2,207,965, 120 events) and Emanuel/Ricardo ($1,856,530, 89) on the all-time international winnings list.

By winning 22 of 25 matches this season, Juliana and Larissa became the fourth team in SWATCH FIVB World Tour history to win over 400 matches together.  Adriana and Shelda top the list for most match wins (587-139) followed by Emanuel/Ricardo (445-102) and the Laciga brothers of Switzerland (Martin and Paul, 406-212).

“We are a very driven team,” said the 26-year old Juliana.  “We strive to play our very best with each match.  It is tough to maintain your consistency as this sport is very unpredictable due to the playing conditions combined with the travel and competition at different sites each week.  We are honored to be considered in the same class with such legendary partnerships as Adriana/Shelda, Misty/Kerri and Emanuel/Ricardo.  Never did I think we could ever come close to any of their records or achievements.”

Consistency has been a trademark for Juliana and the 28-year old Larissa since forming their partnership at the start of the 2004 season for the SWATCH opening event in Brazil.  Since placing on a FIVB podium in their first event in Fortaleza, Juliana and Larissa have competed in 63 semi-finals with 59 medals in their previous 76 tournaments.  The pair has posted a 31-17 record for title matches with a 2-1 mark this season.

The Grand Slam presented by SEAT, which will be part of the country’s Russian Day observance this weekend, also featured men’s qualifying Wednesday to set the field for Thursday’s opening pool play matches.  After the pool play rounds, 24 teams from each gender will advance to single-elimination bracket competition starting Friday for women and Saturday for men.

The women’s semi-final and medal matches will be played Sunday followed Monday by the men’s “final four” matches on the Poklonnaya Gora (Victory Park) center court.  The winning women’s and men’s teams will each share the $43,500 first-place prizes as the 2010 SWATCH FIVB World Tour Grand Slam series offers $3.6-million of the circuit’s total $6.83-million in prize money.

After the Grand Slam presented by SEAT, the 2010 women’s SWATCH FIVB World Tour takes a two-week break before resuming play in Norway for the $600,000 ConocoPhillips Grand Slam in Stavanger.  The men will have a week’s break after competing in the Czech Republic June 15-20 at Prague.