IT will be a clash of the giants right off the bat when the Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CASOVA) Championship serves off tomorrow at Jean Pierre Complex, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain.
In the first night match of the tournament, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago, by far the two most successful of the female teams to have competed in the event over the years, will clash at 6 p.m.
And two hours later this country’s men will square off against Suriname in the final match of the triple header.
The Barbadian women held a stranglehold during the early years and have captured the title six times in this biennial tournament. But T&T are catching up fast and they completed a beaver-trick and made it five all told two years ago in St Croix.
The hosts were certain to begin as the overwhelming favourites to tie the Bajans, but their odds of doing so are now even shorter after they came within one victory of qualifying for the Women’s World Championships at home two weeks ago.
However T&T were beaten by the Mexicans, who earned the 24th and final ticket to do battle in Italy from September 23 to October 12.
Bahamas, Jamaica and Suriname are the other female teams involved and, following a round-robin event, the top two teams will play for the gold medal on Sunday night.
After today’s action, T&T play at 8 p.m. in the final game of triple headers tomorrow, Thursday and Friday against Suriname, Jamaica and Bahamas, respectively.
The six men’s teams have been placed in two round-robin groups. The Bajans are in Group B, alongside Suriname and T&T. Group A consists of Bahamas, Curacao and Jamaica.
The group winners will advance straight into Saturday night’s semi-finals, while the other teams will have to play quarter-finals the day before. The gold-medal match will take place at 4 p.m. Sunday, two hours before the women’s title match.
Two days after their opening match against Suriname, T&T’s men will conclude their round-robin campaign against Barbados at eight o’clock Wednesday night.
T&T captured the men’s title for the first time in 2008, but were beaten in a five-set thriller by Bahamas in the final two years ago.
T&T was eliminated in the third and final round of NORCECA (North, Central America and the Caribbean) qualifying in May for the World Championships, which will take place in Poland from the end of the month.
The women of Jamaica and Suriname will square off in the first match of this week’s tournament at 3 p.m. tomorrow and the opening ceremony is two hours after.