COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. May 15, 2003 - The USA Men's National Volleyball Team will open their 2003 season with a series of five matches against Korea in Colorado and Nebraska from June 15-22.
The tour begins on June 15 at the University of Northern Colorado, followed by matches in Nebraska on June 17, Colorado again on June 19 before the final two games return to Nebraska on June 20 and June 22.
The matches will be Team USA's first international competition of the 2003 season, a crucial pre-Olympic year. The first qualifier for the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, will be the World Cup in Japan in November where the top three finishers earning an early ticket to Athens.
Last year, a relatively young American team went 19-17 and finished ninth at the World Championship in Argentina. The men, ranked 13th in the world, showed glimpses of its potential to return to the upper echelon of the volleyball world last season, posting wins over three of the top four teams in the world (No. 2 Brazil, No. 3 Yugoslavia and No. 4 Italy).
"What we showed last summer was we have the ability to play at a very high level," said Team USA head coach Doug Beal. "Now we have to show that we have not only the ability to play at that level, but the maturity and the consistency to play at that level for every match of a long tournament, whether it's the NORCECA championships, or the World Cup, or the Olympic Games. We have to play at a very high level for a much longer period of time than we did in Argentina at the World Championship."
Korea, which did not participate at the World Championship last year, begins the year ranked No. 18 in the world.