SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic September 14, 2003 – The start to the 2003 NORCECA Zone Championship was delayed for a day for the USA women’s national Volleyball team following the withdrawal of its first pool play opponent, Mexico.
Team USA was scheduled to play Mexico on Sunday but the Mexican team withdrew from the tournament earlier in the week.
“We wanted to play against Mexico to get things going,” said Team USA head coach Toshi Yoshida, who has guided the United States to the No. 2 ranking in the world in just his third year. “However, there is nothing we can do (now); we just have to deal with this situation.”
Despite Mexico’s withdrawal, the pools and schedule remain the same. The United States is in Pool B along with Costa Rica and Cuba. Pool A consists of Canada, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Trinidad and Tobago.
The United States will play its first match on Monday against Costa Rica.
The top team in each pool automatically advances to the tournament semifinals, scheduled for Thursday while the fourth-place team in Pool A will finish the tournament in seventh place.
The teams ranked second and third at the conclusion of pool play will play cross-over matches on Sept. 17 (2A vs. 3B, 2B vs. 3A), with the winners advancing to the semifinals and the losers doing battle for fifth place on Sept. 18.
The third-place match and the championship match will take place on Sept. 19.
The NORCECA Championship is crucial because it serves as a qualifier to the first Olympic qualifier, the World Cup, which is scheduled for Nov. 1-15 in Japan. The top three teams at the World Cup automatically qualify for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
The top two teams at the NORCECA championship earn a winter trip to Japan and a shot at qualifying for the Olympics a full nine months before the Games begin.