The first award of the Scottish volleyball season is up for grabs this weekend as all attention turns to Wishaw Sports Centre and the finals of the Top Teams Cup.
The format of the Scottish Cup has the Division One teams receiving a bye to the first knockout round, they have the opportunity to test their mettle early in the season with the goal of gaining early boasting rights in the hunt for honours.
Although the Top Teams Cup is played over a group format to qualify for the final, it’s really a knockout of a competition. With only the two group winners going through, it’s very difficult to bounce back from a reversal of any kind.
Troon Prestwick & Ayr know all about the Top Teams Cup. They have been in the last five finals, and this one is their sixth. Despite bringing on an emerging squad during the early years of the decade, they’ve preserved the nucleus of the team that has taken them each year, and, sitting atop the National League at present, they would be considered warm favourites to bring home their fourth Top Teams Cup title.
For opponents Edinburgh Jets, it’s a first final, thanks to their stunning 3-1 victory over City of Edinburgh in a winner-takes-all final group match. Jets were the predominant force in the league around the turn of the millennium, winning both league and cup multiple times. Then came the hard times; the Jets club shrunk to just one mens team, playing outside the capital. While many other illustrious names disappeared from the fixture list, Jets made an active decision to seek to restore their past position as the largest club in country, and this final is fitting reward for the sterling efforts put in by the key people in the capital club.
Meanwhile, the mens final brings together two teams who define the phase “dig deep and get on with it”. City of Edinburgh came all the way up from the bottom of the league to win the top prize. Some of the guys on the current team have the medals and the scars to show for it. But names like Watt, MacNab, Traylor, Miedzybroski and McGivern are just gold letters on the honours board now – they’re gone. But Edinburgh perpetuates, and grows stronger year by year!
Edinburgh play a high-octane offence, and they seem to have the knack of always being able to replace their departing players with athletes in a similar mould. Niall Collin and Mike Penny add power and finesse to an already stacked offensive unit, while Jamie McHardy has been a revelation this year since converting to passer-hitter.
While Edinburgh players left over a period of time, Kilmarnock lost almost a whole team of outstanding athletes all at once. Allan Thomas, Gary McGuire, Stretch Jackson, Gus Mitchell and Neil McCallum all filled the orange jersey for years of league and cup dominance through the 1990’s. They formed the backbone of a strong Scotland team which held its own in CEV competitions. And at the end of last season, they all decided that enough was enough, and like a team, hung up their kneepads together.
Kilmarnock Blaze will bring everything they have to the Top Teams Cup final at Wishaw Sunday, seeking to overcome their 1-3 league reversal at the hands of Edinburgh three weeks ago; Edinburgh will want to maintain their unbeaten record going back to last January, when their opponents were – Kilmarnock Blaze! Where will you be on Sunday? Scottish Volleyball congratulates all the finalist clubs and wishes you the best of luck!
Match times are as follows:
11.00am FBS Women – Troon Prestwick & Ayr v Edinburgh Jets
1.00pm FBS Men – City of Edinburgh vs Kilmarnock Blaze