It’s all getting tasty in the Top Teams Cup this weekend, as the eight teams with unbeaten records come together in winner-take-all ties.
The Top Teams Cup was inaugurated five years ago to give the Division One teams another competitive outlet while the lower league teams play their qualifying matches in the Scottish Cup. The final in December is often a guide to which team has the bottle to go all the way and win the Scottish Cup itself, with six of the ten winners of the Top Teams Cup emerging as Scottish Cup champions at the end of the season.
However there’s never been a closing weekend to the Top Teams Cup groups like this. Only the group winner goes to the final, and in the past at least one group has been decided before the end of November; not this time!
There are eight teams with unbeaten records in the Top Teams Cup in 2011, and they come together on Saturday with the chance of glory for some, and the ashes of despair for others. Eight teams, seven of them in the nominal playoff slots for the end of the season, and only four can progress.
In the womens Top Teams Cup, Troon Prestwick & Ayr have been finalists every year, and have three trophies to show. Unbeaten this season, they go for their sixth final in a row. However in their way are Su Ragazzi. This is meant to be a rebuilding year for Su, with several younger players having an opportunity to show their prowess. The two teams have yet to play in the league this season, and Su Ragazzi, youngsters and all, are sitting just one place off the top of the league. Action at Coltness HS gets underway at 10.30am.
The other key tie is an Edinburgh derby, bringing together Edinburgh Jets and City of Edinburgh. This is the one trophy in Scottish volleyball that has eluded Jets, and with home advantage, this could be the time to take the laurels for the four-times Scottish Cup winners.
Certainly City of Edinburgh will not be taking their city rivals lightly. In an interview with a local newspaper, City of Edinburgh captain Mel Coutts commented “We played them early in the season and they were a bit disjointed but I got the impression that they were still getting their act together and would be a different team after playing a few matches,”
The Mens Top Teams Cup is not less intriguing. The tie of the round brings together City of Edinburgh and Glasgow Mets, who have shared between them the last four TTC titles. Edinburgh are undefeated this season, while Mets’ only defeat came at the hands of Edinburgh in October. Both teams have made key additions to their personnel for this campaign, Edinburgh adding former Dundee trio Niall Collin, Graeme Spowart and Iain Taylor, while Mets have the services of former Troon middle blocker Daryl McFarlane, and Spanish hitter Miguel Corrogo. The match is scheduled for an 11.00am start at St Mungo’s Academy.
Meanwhile, the other qualifying tie brings together two of the real heavyweights of Scottish volleyball in the shape of City of Glasgow Ragazzi and Kilmarnock Blaze. These clubs dominated the domestic scene for so many years, and both will be keen to gain the early season ascendancy on one another. Ragazzi’s league form has been uncharacteristically patchy this season, but they will be desparate to turn around their league defeat at the hands of their Ayrshire rivals to reach their third Top Teams Cup final. Kilmarnock for their part will be equally keen for a win, having won the league encounter between the two sides 3-2 in October.
The draw for the Fourth Round of the Scottish Cup and Scottish Plate, featuring the Division One teams will take place on Sunday, with several non-league sides venturing into the Scottish Plate as part of their participation in the forthcoming Regional Leagues. All the results from the Top Teams Cup and the Scottish Cup, as well as the 4th Round Scottish Cup draw will be available here on Sunday, but if you can’t wait, why not get along to a game on Saturday and show your support.