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Survivor: Superwoman Defeated

After outlasting the entire Ulong tribe, Stephenie LaGrossa joined Koror, where she did her best to revive an alliance forged in the first days of "Survivor: Palau." But on Thursday night, perhaps inevitably, her torch was snuffed.

The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith remarked during her morning-after interview: "Talk about luck of the draw. Right? I mean, in retrospect."

Stephenie says it certainly looked good to all the Ulongs. They were, after all, composed of a younger crowd. As it turned out, though, they did not win one immunity challenge.

So does Stephenie feel like there would have been a different outcome had she not been stuck with the tribe she was stuck with?

"I do. Absolutely," she says. "I think I had a real good shot, if I had been on Koror, at winning the entire game. But because I was on a tribe that lost every single time…"

What was that like for her?

"It was so difficult, because I don't like to lose. I said it five million times on the show. And it was really hard to come back over and over again, try to keep my head up and just really go in fighting the best I could."

She ended up alone out there, as the last surviving Ulong. "And that was really scary for me," she tells Smith. "But it was awesome, because you know what? I was the last one standing, on my tribe anyway. I was just going to do my best. That was always my motto: No regrets, do my best, and hopefully the outcome will be right."

In the end, Stephenie tried to organize an all-women alliance against the men. "I thought I sold it to them," she says. "But as I saw last night, Caryn was the one that said something to Tom. That's how it all got spoiled. But I know they thought I was such a fierce competitor and they didn't want to go up against me. But you know what? Up against those three men, they really had no shot."

Later on Friday's The Early Show, with help from co-anchor Rene Syler, Stephenie answered questions from viewers who called in.

Brandon from Florida asked Stephenie: "If you could have had one Ulong member to remain with you into the merge, who would it be and why?"

Stephenie's answer: "I think definitely Bobby Jon, because he worked really hard. He deserved to be there, too."

When Syler reminded her that "Bobby Jon was working your last nerve," Stephenie conceded that was true, but he would still be her choice.

Another caller, Matt from New York, wanted to know what impact the letters from home had on Stephenie, the ones she bought at the auction shown on Thursday night's episode.

"They were just amazing," Stephenie said of the letters, which encouraged her with messages like, "Just keep your head up, we're all proud of you no matter what.

"Just very positive," Stephenie continued. "They really brought me up, because at that point in the game, I was really down."

Mitch from Virginia wanted to know why Stephenie decided to make an alliance with the girls instead of the guys.

"Ian and Greg wouldn't even look me in the face," she replied. "Tom seemed like he was leaning towards them. That was my last card to play. I tried to get the girls all against the guys. If I was such a threat, look at these men. That's all I could think."Here is a rundown of Thursday night's episode:

Just when you thought she was strong, full of moxie and bright, Stephenie brought out the big guns.

Waging full-out psychological warfare on the remaining Koror tribesmembers, the 25-year-old pharmaceutical sales rep from Philadelphia, Pa., turned every alliance on its head, blew relationships out the window and even planted seeds of insecurity in the alpha males' brains.

But no amount of mass confusion could negate the inevitable: that Steph was toast. The audience favorite was voted out in the eleventh episode of "Survivor:Palau."

"I'm like really proud of myself," Steph, the only remaining member of the Ulong tribe said. "My whole team got blown away, and I was left standing."

She should have noted that she blew her tribe away single-handedly. That's before surviving two voting rounds in a new team.
Steph's emotional appeal for survival that continued through episode 11 began at the previous tribal council, where she broke into tears and put on the puppy-dog eyes.

Tom called Stephenie's diatribe a "self-preservation speech," saying she earned her own immunity.

But getting back to camp: "It was just uncomfortable…I don't know who to trust, I don't know who to talk to," Steph said.

"That was ridiculous," Gregg Carey said, adding a little foreshadowing, "I just hope it doesn't come back to haunt us."
Strength is clearly a weakness when it comes to voting off tribesmembers. Tom knows Steph's been targeted for that reason, and confronts his strength to the television cameras. "I said, 'Don't hold it against me now.'" And he confided in Stephenie that he thinks he's just a few votes behind her.

The ladies laughed at that. They already outnumbered the men. But each lady castaway would be defying an alliance in order to form an all-estrogen foursome.

But Jenn Lyon, the 33-year old California blonde who's been hooking up with Gregg, organized a pow-wow with Steph and Katie Gallagher to test those waters.

Host Jeff Probst brought out his own mind game by giving each player a wallet full of $20s (for keeps) with which they could join in on an auction. Let's call it the Survivor Auction: the blind item bidding game.

Each item was conveniently covered in what looked like an opaque mini-mosquito net that bidders couldn't quite see through. The highlights:

  • Jenn bought an ice cream sundae for $120.
  • Ian got spaghetti with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese for hundreds. He washed it down with a $40 chilled beer.
  • Tom won as the highest bidder on a letter from home. It cost him more than $200, but when he opened it, he found a drawing from his child.
  • Several other castaways took up the same offer to buy their loved ones' letters.

    Ian Rosenberger, the dolphin trainer who's staying low-key, won immunity shortly after, but the tension was so high on the island that even he was feeling paranoid going into tribal council.

    "You go to the bathroom and you think: is anyone talking about me?" he said.

    Caryn Groedel said she's starting feeling like "at any given time I might not know what's going on."

    But she needn't worry — yet. Steph took four of the first five votes and resigned her torch to being snuffed.

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