What you need to know:
- While the absence of regulars presents a selection headache for coaches, it will give upcoming players a chance to prove their worth
- KCB have been preparing budding outside hitter Mariam Musa for a first team role during the play-offs as coach Japheth Munala looks to tweak his line up
- Chepkorir has seamlessly filled the void left by Murambi while Chelimo has proved a reliable outlet in attack for the Oilers at opposite in the absence of Makuto
The 2021/22 KVF National League play-offs are set to serve off Friday at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani indoor arena.
Defending champions Kenya Prisons will put their title on the line with Kenya Pipeline, who last won the league in 2017, touted as the favourites.
KCB, who finished second in the regular season behind Pipeline, also have a decent side capable of causing an upset while Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) are the potential dark horses.
Local volleyball fans will however be keen to see how these four sides parade in the play-offs especially in the absence of familiar faces such as Sharon Chepchumba, Noel Murambi, Veronica Adhiambo, Lydia Maiyo, Meldine Sande and Violet Makuto.
While the absence of these regulars presents a selection headache for coaches, it will give upcoming players a chance to prove their worth.
KCB have been preparing budding outside hitter Mariam Musa for a first team role during the play-offs as coach Japheth Munala looks to tweak his line up to make up for the absence of star opposite Chepchumba. If Musa needed encouragement, she can draw it from her fellow Kesogon alumnus Belinda Barasa who overly impressed in her play-offs debut with KCB in 2018.
Similarly, Kenya Pipeline duo of Daisy Chepkorir and Miriam Chelimo will be out to show they deserve a spot in the first team. Chepkorir has seamlessly filled the void left by Murambi while Chelimo has proved a reliable outlet in attack for the Oilers at opposite in the absence of Makuto. Another Pipeline player who is finally living up to her huge potential is Pamela Adhiambo whose versatility gives coach Paul Gitau further options at opposite and outside hitter positions.
Prisons coach Josp Barasa will unleash libero Delvine Misoki, throwing her into the deep end as his hugely experienced side goes for a fourth consecutive league title. The Kwanthanze alumnus is seen as the successor to long-serving Elizabeth Wanyama and the play-offs will be the best time to announce herself at the big stage.
DCI, who have recently churned out top talents like Veronica, will hope that Jemimah Siang’u and Caroline Sirengo bring their ‘A’ game to the play-offs. The pair have flattered to deceive when called up to the national team and this season’s play-offs will be a perfect opportunity for them to show they deserve a seat at the high table.
The youthful duo of middle blocker Mercy Iminza and opposite Vivian Bor have also impressed during the regular season and it remains to be seen whether they can carry that form to the play-offs. Setter Benedine Chepng’etich, daughter to the late General Service Unit (GSU) star attacker Elphas “Boiyo” Biwott could also make a bow as back-up to captain Jane Mumbua.
With Malkia Strikers' plate full ahead of a busy 2023 calendar, national team selectors will certainly be spoilt for choice as the young blood battle it out in the play-offs.
Chepchumba, Barasa and Veronica are some of the young players who have forced their way into the national team in recent times after impressing at the play-offs which have always proved to be a good barometer for testing new talents.
There is no doubt there is an abundance of budding talents in the local league but the play-offs will be a good sieve for national team coaches as they begin piecing up their provisional squad for upcoming assignments.