Foreign talent good for local volleyball league

Linus Rotich of Nairobi Prisons spikes as TrailBlazers Jean Claude and Emanuel Melly block

Linus Rotich of Nairobi Prisons (left) spikes as Trailblazers Jean Claude and Emanuel Melly block during their Kenya Volleyball Federation National League match at Nyayo National stadium in Nairobi on July 2, 2022.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • TrailBlazers’ meteoric run in the league this season was greatly fueled by the foreign legion of outside hitters David Neeke (Tanzania), Juliard Mbappe (Cameroon) and setter Jean Claude Masezerano (Rwanda).

Last weekend, TrailBlazers Volleyball Club made history by becoming the first club to qualify for the KVF National League play-offs in their first year in the league.

Geoffrey Omondi’s charges garnered 37 points from 15 matches to finish fourth in the league standings and book a place in the play-offs.

TrailBlazers’ meteoric run in the league this season was greatly fueled by the foreign legion of outside hitters David Neeke (Tanzania), Juliard Mbappe (Cameroon) and setter Jean Claude Masezerano (Rwanda).

This trio, who joined Blazers from Equity Bank at the start of the season, featured in all 15 league matches and their contribution didn’t go unnoticed as the league’s newcomers upset the form book in every leg.

Notably, TrailBlazers gave performances worth noting in their ties against record champions General Service Unit (GSU) and Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) despite losing 3-2 on both occasions.

However, it’s their identical 3-1 wins over Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) that effectively set them on the brink of qualifying for the playoffs.

Neeke and Mbappe have raised the bar for Kenyan outside hitters with their excellent reception and effective pipe attack. The effect has been felt with Stanley Mutua enjoying the form of his life this season both in attack and back court defence.

The competition between setters Masezerano and Daniel Ngatia is one of the best in the league with the pair complimenting each other in terms of ability.

Masezerano is certainly the first choice and a superb blocker in front court defence but Ngatia has often been called upon to offer a different dimension and his unique range in service works well for coach Omondi whenever he wants to change his game plan.

While Neeke is a Tanzanian international, Mbappe and Masezerano are yet to be capped by their national teams but their performances in the Kenyan league have certainly sparked interest among selectors back home.

The impressive performances of the trio should serve as a wake-up call to Kenyan clubs to beef up their squads with foreign talent especially when going for international assignments like Africa Club Championships.

If they needed encouragement, the performances of the super trio from TrailBlazers this season should act as sufficient evidence.

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