Laird/Palmer & Sakaguchi/Suzuki pace Siem Reap pool winners


Chiyo Suzuki (right) hits against Majabelle Lawac (left) of Vanuatu as Japanese partner Yurika Sakaguchi follows the action.

Siem Reap, Cambodia, February 7, 2020 - Led by FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour gold medal winners Nicole Laird/Becchara Palmer of Australia and Yurika Sakaguchi/Chiyo Suzuki of Japan, six teams from four countries posted two pool play victories each here Friday to advance undefeated to the elimination rounds in the Anchor Beach Volleyball Carnival.

Fourth-seeded Sakaguchi and Suzuki were the second of two Japanese pairs to capture group crowns on Friday as the August 2019 World Tour winners in Budapest posted a 2-1 (16-21, 21-12, 15-10) victory in 45 minutes over 16th-seeded Sofia Bisgaard and Cecilie Olsen of Denmark in Pool D.

The third-seeded Laird and Palmer, who captured their FIVB gold medal nearly 11 months ago on Manley Beach in Sydney, scored a 2-0 (21-18, 23-21) victory in 40 minutes over 15th-seeded Terese Cannon and Kelly Reeves of the United States in Pool C.

With five pairs in the 24-team Anchor Beach Volleyball Carnival main draw, the United States netted two group titles as 24th-seeded Traci Callahan/Crissy Jones (Pool A) and 19th-seeded Aurora Davis/Allie Wheeler (Pool F) advanced undefeated to Saturday's 16-team elimination rounds. Both teams had to win qualifying matches Thursday to gain main draw berths.

Other undefeated tandems from Thursday's pool play rounds were second-seeded Azusa Futami/Akiko Hasegawa of Japan (Pool B) and eighth-seeded Khanittha Hongpak/Varapatsorn Radarong of Thailand (Pool E).

Akiko Hasegawa (left) of Japan competes at the Anchor Beach Volleyball Carnival net Friday against American Sarah Schermerhorn (centre) in a Pool B match.

With the United States having four teams advancing to Saturday's elimination rounds, top-seeded Americans Lauren Fendrick and Sara Hughes recovered from a three-set setback to Callahan and Jones to post a two-set victory over 12th-seeded Amanda Harnett/Marie-Christine Lapointe.

In advancing as the No. 4 third-place finisher in among the pool consolation winners, Fendrick and Hughes will play Futami and Hasegawa in the first round of elimination. Placing ahead of the Americans among the consolation winners were teams from Chinese Taipei, Thailand and Israel as pairs from Australia and Ukraine were eliminated due to lower point and set ratios among the third-place finishers.

The Anchor Beach Volleyball Carnival at Siem Reap continues through Sunday where the winning team will share the $4,000 first-place in the fourth women's event on the 2019-2020 FIVB World Tour calendar.