There are no better ways to begin an FIVB season than the way the five Americans in Siem Reap, Cambodia, did on Thursday morning.
While one, Sara Hughes and Lauren Fendrick, were already straight into the main draw, Kelly Reeves and Terese Cannon slipped in late after a few teams dropped out, leaving three teams in the qualifier of the two-star event.
Wheeler and Davis were the only close call, winning in three sets, 21-14, 22-24, 15-10, over Denmark’s Okholm Hansen and Maria Tyndeskov. The only prior event Wheeler and Davis have played together is a NORCECA in Bonaire, which they won, making it a successful two tournaments thus far for Wheeler, a former USC Trojan, and Davis, a Florida State Seminole.
Hildreth and Schermerhorn, playing in their first international event after a breakthrough AVP season, made quick work of Japan and Thailand, winning in four straight sets, the closest being a 21-14 closing set win over Thailand.
Callahan and Jones, playing in their first event together, swept Switzerland and second-seeded Japan, making it the first FIVB main draw for both.
Now the main draw field of 24 teams is nearly 20 percent American. Inevitably, U.S. vs. U.S. matchups will ensue, the first of which will be Fendrick and Hughes against Callahan and Jones in the first match of pool A.
The three remaining American teams are in separate pools, with Hildreth and Schermerhorn set to play Japan’s Azusa Futami and Akiko Hasegawa; Cannon and Reeves will see Chinese Taipei’s Nai-Han Kou and Pi Hsin Liu; and Davis and Wheeler will play Cambodia’s Mak Chanda and Soeu Sreynat.
It is, per usual, modified pool play, where the winners of the first matches will play one another for the top spot and the losers will play one another in an elimination match. Teams only have to win one match to break pool.