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Teams See Opportunities and Challenges in Adapted NORCECA Men’s Continental Championship

 

COLORADO SPRINGSX5, Colorado, USA (September 26, 2017) – The 2017 NORCECA Men’s Continental Championship, taking place September 26 to October 1 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, will qualify three teams into next year’s FIVB Men’s World Championship set for Bulgaria and Italy.

 

While the original field has been reduced by two teams as Cuba and Puerto Rico were unable to travel due to recent hurricanes in the Caribbean, the head coaches for the remaining 10 teams see the tournament filled with opportunities and challenges to earn one of the three NORCECA berths into the World Championship or a spot into the second chance tournament later this fall. Cuba and Puerto Rico will compete in a tournament along with this week’s fourth- and fifth-place team to fill NORCECA’s remaining two World Championship vacancies, making the tournament positioning even more important for those who do not make the NORCECA podium.

 

While Canada and USA have won the two most recent events, the 10-team field welcomes new faces and others who aim for their first appearances on the podium en route to qualifying for the World Championship. Mexico is the only team other than USA and Canada in this week’s NORCECA field to have been awarded a medal at previous NORCECA Men’s Continental Championships, now in its 25th edition. Martinique is making its first-ever appearance in the NORCECA Men’s Continental Championship.

 

Canada Head Coach Stephane Antiga: Everything is fine. We are a little surprised with the new opponents, but that is okay. We have two different goals, the first is to qualify for the World Championship and the second is to win this tournament. We will try to accomplish both.

 

Costa Rica Head Coach Juan Acuna: All the teams are very well prepared looking for spots into the World Championship. This is a big opportunity for us because we the Central America Tournament in Nicaragua in December. The NORCECA Championship is a good opportunity for us to test the team and our goal is to be in the top six.”

 

Dominican Republic Head Coach Gladston Samuels: This is a very strong tournament. USA, Canada and Mexico are very strong teams. I think this is a very good tournament. We will try to make qualification for the World Championship. But we know that we need to play very well against Mexico and the other teams.

 

Guatemala Head Coach Julio Dominguez: On paper, the team is prepared. I expect the team to come here and do well. Our group is with Dominican Republic and USA, which is the highest ranked team. But, if we have to cross-over, we will have to play Mexico and other teams. We have not played these teams in qualification, so right now we are only looking ahead to USA and Dominican Republic.

 

Martinique Head Coach Eddy Erialc: “We prefer this new schedule plan for the competition because the other team we will meet is at our level and would be a very good competition. We wish to finish third or fourth.”

 

Mexico Head Coach Jorge Miguel Azair: For us it is quite difficult to be here now because of the situation that is going on in our country. But we are fortunate to have the privilege to represent our country and compete. Since we struggled a lot in the Pan Am Cup, we have been working hard. We have developed better break point and side out parts of our game, not just being in-system. Since Puerto Rico and Cuba are not coming, we have to adjust to the new tournament schedule. But we are fortunate to be here.

 

St. Lucia Head Coach Terry Verdant: I know this is a very high-level tournament. Being away from coaching for 10 years, I am back. I am very proud to be here to see what is going on and learn a little more. This tournament will be a learning process because we have a lot of young players at the moment who are traveling for the first time to a big tournament. To this, we are going to play our best, very hard and enjoy it. After that, we will go back to the drawing board.

 

St. Vincent & the Grenadines Head Coach Brian Burke: “Notwithstanding that we have a very young team with six guys under 20, and short on experience at this level. We expect to play fearless volleyball, display David-like qualities in the midst of the Goliaths, hone our volleyball skills, showcase our talent and take advantage of opportunities available and hopefully qualify for the next round. We expect that this competition will transform the lives of these young men, not just volleyball-wise, but every aspect of their lives. We are going with the attitude that we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”

 

Trinidad & Tobago Head Coach Sean Morrison: “For us our first goal is to qualify. We will play every match one point at a time and try to decide the outcome to qualify for the World Championship. For our group, Canada is the top team. In the other groups, the United States and Mexico are at the top. But on any given day, the best team shall win.”

 

United States Head Coach John Speraw: “We’re excited to play our final tournament of the summer. I feel like we have gotten better as a team this season and now we get to go and compete one last time and see how much we’ve improved. We want to see if we can get on the podium and hopefully win our zone. Obviously the goal is to qualify for the World Championship, but we would like to do a little more and finish at the top.”