Three rookies make Malkia Strikers squad for Oympics qualifiers

Some of the players named in the women's national volleyball team provisional squad for the Nations Challenger Cup and Africa Cup of Nations pose for a photo with Kenya Volleyball Federation  officials and coach Paul Bitok (standing third right) at Riadha House on May 31, 2023.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • KCB setter Esther Mutinda also makes a comeback to the side having last featured for the national team in the 2021 Cup of Nations in Rwanda.

Three rookies have have been named in Malkia Strikers' provisional squad of 20 players for Nations Challenger Cup and Africa Cup of Nations.

The Challenger Cup is set for June 25-31 in France while the Cup of Nations is scheduled for August 18-30 in Cameroon.

Kenya Pipeline opposite hitter Loice Simiyu, KCB Women’s Volleyball Team left attacker Juliana Namutira and Kenya Prisons libero Delphine Misoki are the new faces in the national team.

Kenya Pipeline trio of middle blocker Trizah Atuka, left attacker Leonida Kasaya and setter Rose Magoi and Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) left attacker Jemimah Siang’u make a return to the national team.

KCB setter Esther Mutinda also makes a comeback to the side having last featured for the national team in the 2021 Cup of Nations in Rwanda.

Atuka, who has been named the assistant captain, was sidelined due to knee injury while Kasaya was away on maternity leave. KCB's left attacker Mercy Moim remains the team captain.

Magoi, who last featured for the national team during the Africa Games in 2015 in Congo Brazzaville, also makes a come back to the fold after leading Kenya Pipeline to second place in the 2023 Africa Club Championships in Tunisia that ended last week.

Hard-hitting opposite hitter Pamela Adhiambo, who did not make the cut in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics squad, is in the mix.

Misoki, 18, was delighted to be named in the squad.

“While at Kwanthanze Secondary School, I was a-left  attacker but I got an injury that took time to heal. When I recovered, my coach (Justine Kigwari) advised me to take up the libero duties, I’m glad I did and I have put in  the work and it has been noticed. I will put my right foot forward and see what happens,” Misoki said.

While naming the team at Riadha House, Nairobi on Wednesday, coach Paul Bitok said it’s a strong squad that he hopes will qualify for the 2024 Paris  Games.

“We have 20 players but we will trim the squad to 16 which will travel to Morocco on June 10 for the 15-day training camp. But as we do all these, we are keen on qualifying for the Olympics. We have good players and I must admit that we struggled to settle on the 20 players,” said Bitok.

Acting Kenya Volleyball Federation chairman Charles Nyaberi said they are counting on the government's support as they roll out the journey to the Olympics.

“We are indebted to the International Volleyball Federation for the training programme. It’s through that arrangement that we have had players turn professional like Sharon Chepchumba and Veronica Adhiambo and we are glad to be part of the programme. I want to wish the players well,” said Nyaberi.

Provisional Squad:

Setters: Emmaculate Nekesa, Esther Mutinda, Veronica Kilabat and Rose Magoi

Opposite hitters: Sharon Chepchumba, Loice Simiyu and Pamela Adhiambo

Left attackers: Mercy Moim,Veronica Adhiambo, Juliana Namutira, Leonida Kasaya, Jemimah Siang’u and Yvonne Wavinya

Liberos: Delphine Misoki and Agripina Kundu

Middle blockers: Trizah Atuka, Edith Wisa, Belinda Barasa, Lorine Chebet and Gladys Ekaru

Coaches: Luizomar de Moura (head coach), Paul Bitok, Japheth Munala