PRESS RELEASE 08.01.2004


NORCECA Men - USA remain unbeaten with Canadian victory

CAGUAS, Puerto Rico, January 7, 2003 - USA survived two high pressure sets but kept their unbeaten record at the NORCECA Men's Olympic Qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico with a straight sets defeat of Canada (27-25, 30-28, 25-21) in 83 minutes on Wednesday.

The Americans have now won all three of their matches and are favourites to claim the Olympic ticket to Athens while Canada are now 1-3 and must wait until Thursday to know if their qualification hopes are still alive.

In a match typical of the arch rivalry between the two neighbouring countries the first two sets were a battle of the strongest with the lead changing several times, before, once again, the Canadians had problems in executing key plays when it mattered most. In the third set the Americans dominated with Tom Hoff leading their big blockers to record the victory.

"It was a very strong match and Canada offered great resistance with a lot of desire," said USA coach Doug Beal. "This is a confirmation of the big improvement of the Volleyball in the NORCECA region, where you can see teams like Canada and Puerto Rico with a lot of talent, Mexico being always a dangerous rival and the promising Cuban team".

USA had four players in double figures with Brook Billing leading the way with 15 points accompanied by Reid Priddy, Gabe Gardner and Hoff with 12 apiece.

Corie Koskie, the Canadian captain, said: "We had problems keeping the concentration level after the 20-point mark in each set. We played big but also without luck".

Murray Grapentine scored 14 points for Canada with Paul Duerden adding 13.