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Cuba, USA expect challenges from the NORCECA Olympic Qualifier field

 

LONG BEACH, California, May 5, 2012 Ė While Cuba and United States are favorites to win the 2012 NORCECA Menís Continental Olympic Qualification Tournament to earn a berth into the Olympic Games this summer, the other six teams will provide plenty of challenges as they vie for the coveted ticket to London.

 

The eight-team event takes place May 7-12 at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, Calif. Preliminary pool play takes place the first three days in two groups of round-robin competition. The top seed in each pool advances directly to the semifinals on May 11, while the second- and third-place teams will compete in crossover quarterfinal matches on May 10. Final classification matches are set for May 12 with the gold-medal match taking place at 8 p.m. Pacific Time.

 

If Cuba and United States do not claim the gold medal, one last chance exists to qualify for the Olympic Games through the world qualification process in early June. The NORCECA event represents the final opportunity to advance to the London Olympic Games for five of the other six teams should either Cuba or USA wins the continental qualifier.

 

if USA wins, Cuba and Puerto Rico will go to the WOQTs. If Cuba wins, USA and Puerto Rico advance to the World Qualification Tournaments. Should any team other than USA and Cuba win the NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament, then Cuba and USA advance to the World Qualification Tournaments.

 

Cuba, ranked fifth in the world by the FIVB and first in NORCECA, finished eighth at the 2011 FIVB World League and fifth at the 2011 FIVB World Cup. It finished second at the 2010 FIVB World Championship. It also won the NORCECA Continental Championship in 2009 and 2011. Cuba finished with the bronze medal at the 2008 NORCECA Menís Continental Olympic Qualification Tournament behind the USA and Puerto Rico.

 

The U.S. Menís National Volleyball Team, which trains in nearby Anaheim, Calif., is ranked sixth in the world by FIVB and second in NORCECA. The U.S., the defending Olympic Games champion, will be looking to qualify for its seventh straight Summer Games and the ninth overall since the sportsí debut in 1964 at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. The U.S. has won the past three NORCECA Menís Continental Olympic Qualification Tournaments, defeating Canada in the 2000 final, Cuba in the 2004 final and Puerto Rico in the 2008 final.

 

Mexico, ranked No. 23 in the world and No. 3 in NORCECA, comes into the NORCECA Menís Continental Olympic Qualifier off of a fourth-place finish at the 2011 Pan American Games and fifth place at the 2011 Pan American Cup and NORCECA Continental Championship. The team qualified for the 2010 FIVB World Championship where it finished tied for 13th.

 

Currently ranked No. 18 in the world and fourth in NORCECA, Canada has taken many steps forward since it began international competition in 1959. Canada placed third at the 2011 NORCECA Continental Championship.

 

Puerto Rico, ranked No. 17 in the FIVB and fifth in NORCECA, has pushed both the United States and Cuba in recent matches. It placed 13th at the 2010 FIVB World Championship in Italy and fourth at the 2011 NORCECA Continental Championship and the 2011 Pan American Cup. Puerto Rico played the United States in the 2011 FIVB World League with USA matches played at the Pyramid in Long Beach bringing venue familiarity to the program.

 

Trinidad & Tobago, ranked No. 33 in the world and sixth in NORCECA, finished sixth at the 2011 NORCECA Continental Championship. Costa Rica is ranked 43rd in the world by the FIVB and ninth in NORCECA. The Dominican Republic, ranked 46th in the world and 10th in NORCECA.

 

Canada hosted the first two NORCECA Menís Continental Olympic Qualification Tournaments with spots into the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games. Puerto Rico hosted the event in 2004 and 2008. The United States is hosting its first-ever NORCECA Menís Continental Olympic Qualification Tournament.

 

From 1972 to 1992 the NORCECA Championships doubled as qualification for the Olympic Games, with the champions moving on. For the first two Olympic Games in 1964 and 1968, the team from NORCECA was decided via the Pan American Games.

 

For photo galleries of the event, visit https://www.dropbox.com/sh/prk1bc2pn4e2lxi/h_XfLfPU7s.

For match statistical forms, visit https://www.dropbox.com/sh/c9m3a7op5jb58we/6kqJokxo6h.

For Daily Bulletins for the event, visit https://www.dropbox.com/sh/oeod6gqcnm1dcao/b6e3C-Eld2.