NORCECA Men’s Continental Championships
- U.S. Olympic Training Center; Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Sept. 26-Oct. 1, 2017
- Live Streaming
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – With hurricanes keeping third ranked Cuba and fifth-ranked Puerto Rico out of the tournament, the remaining 10 teams kick off the NORCECA Men’s Continental Championships on Tuesday.
How They Got Here
The top six teams in NORCECA rankings received an automatic berth to the Continental Championships. The remaining six teams qualified through zonal tournaments. Coming into the tournament, the United States ranked No. 1 in NORCECA and No. 2 in the FIVB world rankings. Canada is No. 2 in NORCECA, followed by Cuba, Mexico and Puerto Rico.
The teams have been split into three groups: A, B, and C. Group A includes the United States, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. Group B features Trinidad & Tobago, St. Lucia and Canada. Group C consists of Costa Rica, Martinique, Mexico and St. Vincent.
Action begins at 7 p.m. ET Tuesday with Costa Rico meeting Martinique and Trinidad & Tobago facing off with St. Lucia. At 9 p.m. ET, the United States kicks off its tournament effort against Guatemala, while Mexico meets St. Vincent.
The group play slate includes four matches a day, two at 7 p.m. and two at 9 p.m. ET, Tuesday through Thursday.
|7 p.m.||SportsCenter 1||Trinidad & Tobago v St. Lucia|
|7 p.m.||SportsCenter 2||Costa Rica v Martinique|
|9 p.m.||SportsCenter 1||USA v Guatemala|
|9 p.m.||SportsCenter 2||Mexico v St. Vincent|
|7 p.m.||SportsCenter 1||Canada v St. Lucia|
|7 p.m.||SportsCenter 2||Costa Rica v St. Vincent|
|9 p.m.||SportsCenter 1||Dominican Republic v Guatemala|
|9 p.m.||SportsCenter 2||Mexico v Martinique|
|7 p.m.||SportsCenter 1||Canada v Trinidad & Tobago|
|7 p.m.||SportsCenter 2||Martinique v St. Vincent|
|9 p.m.||SportsCenter 1||USA v Dominican Republic|
|9 p.m.||SportsCenter 2||Mexico v Costa Rica|
Classification matches begin on Friday, while the quarterfinals also will be played that evening. Semifinals and more classification matches are set for Friday, with the finals and bronze medal match scheduled for Saturday.
|7 p.m.||SportsCenter 1||Quarterfinal 1|
|7 p.m.||SportsCenter 2||Classification 7-10|
|9 p.m.||SportsCenter 1||Quarterfinal 2|
|9 p.m.||SportsCenter 2||Classification 7-10|
|5 p.m.||SportsCenter 1||Classification 5-8|
|5 p.m.||SportsCenter 2||Classification 9-10|
|7 p.m.||SportsCenter 1||Semifinal 1|
|7 p.m.||SportsCenter 2||Classification 5-8|
|9 p.m.||SportsCenter 1||Semifinal 2|
|4 p.m.||SportsCenter 2||Classification 7-8|
|5 p.m.||SportsCenter 1||Bronze Medal Match|
|6 p.m.||SportsCenter 2||Classification 5-6|
|7 p.m.||SportsCenter 1||Gold Medal Match|
A Look at the Field
Dominican Republic coach Gladston Samuels offered a take on the top teams in the tournament.
“This is a very strong tournament,” Samuels said. “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.”
The five teams that qualified for the 2014 World Championships from the NORCECA confederation were: Canada, Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the United States. Canada and the United States tied for seventh place, follow by Cuba (tied for 11th), Mexico (tied 17th) and Puerto Rico (tied 21st).
At the most recent NORCECA Championships in 2015, Canada won gold, followed by Cuba and Puerto Rico. The United States did not participate due to the fact that the team had already qualified for the 2016 Olympics. The Americans have won five of the last seven NORCECA titles.
The United States is the favorite to win the Continental title after finishing fourth at the FIVB World League and FIVB Grand Champions Cup earlier int he summer. The American roster will include nine players from the 2016 Olympic bronze medal team. Opposites Ben Patch and Carson Clark and Dustin Watten joined the team this summer for the Grand Champions Cup. New to the team for this tournament are middle blockers Dan McDonnell and Mitch Stahl. Middle blocker David Smith will act as the team’s captain.
“We’re excited to play our final tournament of the summer,” American coach John Speraw said. “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.”
Canada also had a successful summer, including a third place finish at the FIV World League tournament. The Canadians bested the United States 3-1 in the bronze medal match to earn their first ever medal at an FIVB international event. The Canadians will vie for their eighth straight World Championships berth. The squad finished seventh at the 2014 event in Poland and won the 2015 NORCECA title.
“Everything is fine,” Canadian coach Stephane Antiga said. “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.”
With No. 3 Cuba out of the field, the next team up is Mexico. The Mexican side will have a lot on their minds due to the recent earthquake that ravaged their country as they prepare to vie for a third straight World Championships bid. Mexico finished fourth at the 2015 NORCECA Championships.
“For us it is quite difficult to be here now because of the situation that is going on in our country,” coach Jorge Miguel Azair said. “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.”