What you need to know:
- Kenya women’s team coach happy with progress despite loss to Cameroon in final match.
- Malkia Strikers qualify for global event.
Kenya women’s volleyball team coach, Paul Bitok, believes the plan to mould new crop of players remains firmly on course after the conclusion of the 2021 African Nations Championships in Kigali.
On Sunday night, Kenya failed to reclaim the title it last won in 2015 in Nairobi, succumbing to rivals Cameroon 3-1 sets (25-21,25-23,15-25, and 23-25) in the final.
Bitok says that although the team had a shaky start in the tournament, he is glad Kenya qualified for next year's World Championships which will be staged in Poland and the Netherlands.
"We started the competition on a slow note but from the group stages, our performance improved, enabling us to get a ticket to the 2022 World Championships.As I mentioned earlier, our plans and effort aimed at building a new generation of players is on course," stated Bitok.
"Our target to be the future undisputed title holders and African representatives at the Olympics is achievable. I thank all the players, members of the technical bench, the Kenya Volleyball Federation and the Ministry of Sports for the great support they have accorded the team during preparation and in the competition. We hope to propel the team to greater heights,” he added.
In the 14-member squad that played in the biennial event, Bitok gave starts to youngsters and promising setter Esther Mutinda,middle blockers Lorraine Chebet and Gladys Ekaru, as well as the much-improved left attacker Pamela Masaisai and Veronica Adhiambo. It was a clear indication of transition in the team.
Only liberos Agripina Kundu and Elizabeth Wanyama, captain Mercy Moim, middle blocker Edith Wisa, left attacker Leonida Kasaya and right attacking duo of Emmaculate Chemtai and Sharon Chepchumba were in the team that competed in the previous edition of the event.
Cameroon had beaten Kenya 3-0 sets in the group stage, but Kenya regrouped to see off Tunisia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi in three sets in its subsequent Pool "B"matches to book a semifinal berth against Morocco.
On Sunday, Kenya defeated Morocco 3-0 sets, setting the stage for a final clash with Cameroon later that evening.
Cameroon saw off Kenya,Tunisia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi in the group stage to qualify for the last four, where they beat Nigeria 3-0.
Morocco defeated Nigeria 3-0 to finish third. Kenya will have to wait for another two years to reclaim the title, but the team will found consolation in the fact that Ekaru, Moim and Chepchumba won individual awards as the event came to an end on Sunday.
Ekaru, Moim and Chepchumba emerged the best blocker, best receiver and best attacker respectively in the championship.
Cameroon's Bassoko and Nana finished as the best server and Most Valuable Player, while Moroccan Alexandra Erhart and Yousra Saudi were named best setter and libero respectively. Kenyan team was due back home last evening.