September 30, 2003 - USA recovered from one set down to claim the gold medal at the NORCECA Men's Championship on Tuesday defeating Canada 3-1 (20-25, 25-18, 25-22, 25-21). Both teams had already qualified for the World Cup next month in Japan having reached the final but it was USA who claimed the Continental honours for the fifth time. They have also won the biennial tournament in 1973, 1983, 1985 and 1999.
The new champions had to battle in the first set, but they easily prevailed in the next three finishing the competition with an unbeaten record of 5-0.
"I am very happy with this competition because we qualified for the World Cup, "USA head coach Doug Beal said. "It was one of the strongest tournaments we have had with four very strong teams and that is very important for the future of the region.
"I am satisfied with the quality showed by my players despite the fact that we should have played better in the last match against Canada.
"Now I want to qualify for the Olympics (by finishing in the top three at the World Cup) in Japan and not in Puerto Rico (the Olympic Confederation Qualifier in January)."
Following the defeat, Canadian coach Stelio DeRocco said his side needs to continue improving in time for the World Cup. "I am very proud of my team because we are in the World Cup and now we will have the chance to meet the most important teams in the world in what is the beginning of a road to the Olympic Games.
"I would rather prefer to qualify in Japan, but for that we need to improve. Sometimes there are surprises in the World Cup and a few teams that are not projected to make it big, come out winners, so we have to keep training and improving our game."
In the bronze medal match, Cuba routed Mexico 25-18, 25-19, 25-16. "Our goal was to make it to the World Cup, it could not be, but we will continue working for the Olympic Continental Qualifier," Cuban coach Eliseo Ramos said. "We have to work very hard because things have changed a lot. Look what happened with USA and Canada. We came here looking for the same faces from the Pan American Games and it was not that way. Now we have information about them we will be prepared for the Qualifier."
MVP: Stanley Clayton (USA)
Attacker: Raydel Contreras (Cuba)
Blocker: Murray Grapentine (Canada)
Sever: Osmany Juantorena (Cuba)
Setter: Lloyd Ball (USA)
Defense: Javier Brito (Cuba)
Reception: Gregory Berrios (Puerto Rico)
Libero: Lucas Zinder (Canada)
5. Puerto Rico