Six countries secure Phnom Penh main draw berths


27-year old Ben O'Dea (center) in action against Japan in his team's opening match Thursday at the Anchor Beach Volleyball Carnival in Phnom Penh.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia, February 20, 2020 - Led by the O'Dea brothers from New Zealand, six men's teams each scored a pair of qualifying wins here Thursday to advance to the main draw in the US$25,000 Anchor Beach Volleyball Carnival.

Seeded 13th in the 24-team qualifier in the Cambodian capital, Ben and Sam O'Dea posted two seed-break-through wins Thursday highlighted by a 2-0 (21-15, 21-18) victory in 34 minutes over top-seeded Narongdet Kangkon and Banlue Nakprakhong of Thailand in the second round.

Competing in their 13th World Tour event together and first this season, the O'Deas will be seeking their second FIVB medal as a team after placing third at a March 2017 international event at Shepparton, Australia. The O'Deas placed ninth last week at the Asian Championships in Thailand

Thirty-four (34) days ago in the Cook Islands, the 29-year-old Sam O'Dea secured New Zealand's first-ever FIVB title with Griffin Muller by defeating an American pair in the January 17 finale.

Other qualifying pairs Thursday were fourth-seeded Paul Burnett/Marcus Ferguson of Australia, fifth-seeded Lukas Pfretzschner/Robin Sowa of Germany, sixth-seeded Maksim Hudyakov/Aleksandr Kramarenko of Russia, 10th-seeded Denys Denysenko/Vladyslav Iemelianchyk of the Ukraine and 14th-seeded Moritz Kindl Mathias Seiser of Austria.

Kindl and Seiser, who won their FIVB title last August in Liechtenstein, defeated another World Tour event winner in their first match Thursday (11th-seeded Armin Dollinger/Simon Kulzer of Germany) before ousting an Austrian rival to qualify for the main draw.

Denysenko and Iemelianchyk claimed an FIVB gold medal at an April 2019 World Tour stop in Satun, Thailand. Iemelianchyk has been part of both Ukrainian title teams on the FIVB circuit as he competed with Sergiy Popov to win the country's first-ever World Tour gold medal in July 2018 at Porec, Croatia.

Friday's main draw will feature 24 pool play matches on Friday with 16 pairs advancing to Saturday's two rounds of elimination. The semifinals and medal matches will be played Sunday with the winning team sharing the $4,000 first-place prize.

Following the Phnom Penh stop, the FIVB World Tour takes a break for a week before resuming play for a women's-only event March 5-8 in Guam.  The men return to action for back-to-back tournaments in Iran (March 3-7 at Bandar Abbas) and Qatar (March 12-15 at Doha). Double gender FIVB events in March are set for Malaysia (March 12-15 at Langkawi), Australia (March 18-22 at Coolangatta) and Mexico (March 25-29 at Cancun).