What you need to know:
- Kenya need a win of any kind on Saturday against Puerto Rico to qualify for the second round for the first time in seven appearances.
- Both sides are level on three points after Puerto Rico beat the African champions also in straight sets on Thursday.
In Arnhem, the Netherlands
After a slow start to the World championship, Malkia Strikers arrive at the business end of the first round with renewed hope for a place in the second round following their 3-0 victory over Cameroon on Tuesday night.
Kenya need a win of any kind on Saturday against Puerto Rico to qualify for the second round for the first time in seven appearances. Both sides are level on three points after Puerto Rico beat the African champions also in straight sets on Thursday.
Here, Nation Sport analyses the key battles of the winner-takes-it-all encounter.
Mercy Moim v Karina Ocasio
Collectively, the pair is 70 years of age and the most experienced in their respective teams but their but their coaches will demand more than that from Moim and Ocasio at Gelredome arena on Saturday .
It’s easy to see why Fernando Morales recalled Ocasio to the Puerto Rico national team for the World Championship with the 37-year-old having registered double digits in the last two matches including a game-high 13 points in their only win against Cameroon.
Attack is certainly her strength since 32 of her 37 points in four matches played so far have come from kills.
Moim, 33, is Kenya’s main receiver and she will need to stabilise this department for East Africans to stand a chance against Puerto Rico who got six aces against Cameroon.
Kenya coach Luizomar de Moura rested Moim against Italy and her fresh legs should certainly have enough energy to add to her current tally of 20 points.
Aggripina Kundu v Shara Venegas
It will certainly be a game of fine margins and the side with better floor defence will carry the day.
Manning Puerto Rico’s back court is Venegas who has been one of the best liberos in this tournament especially with her digs. Puerto Rico have given a good account of themselves in this tournament partly due to their superb defence with Venegas a big contributor.
On the Kenyan side, Kundu will need to step into a higher gear in the Puerto Rico match. She showed some flashes of brilliance with some magnificent digs against Italy last time out and Luizomar will hope she carries the same form to Saturday’s encounter.
Edith Wisa v Neira Ortiz
Puerto Rico’s fantastic performance in floor defence has been greatly fuelled by their middle blockers Diana Reyes and Ortiz. The latter has however stood out with her stuff blocks which have contributed to 15 of her 34 points so far. Her 15 kills from four matches means she is an equally good attacker and Kenya will rely on Wisa to stop her.
Well rested after sitting out of the Italy game in libero kit, Wisa will be looking to add to her underwhelming return of five block points. Her biggest contribution has been in attack where she has nine kills so far but Luizomar will be more impressed if she performs her primary role better to neutralise Puerto Rico’s attack.
Sharon Chepchumba v Brittany Abercrombie
On a good day, Kenya’s top scorer in this tournament Chepchumba has shown she can walk directly into the first team of the best sides in this championship.
She has shown maturity beyond her age in crucial games like the 3-0 win over Cameroon and Luizomar will hope that she turns up in the Puerto Rico game where she will be coming up against experienced blockers.
Abercrombie on the other hand has gone about her business quietly in this competition letting her statistics do the talking. She might pass as too slim to play opposite but what she lacks in power she compensates in technique having scored 66 points so far, 61 from kills.
Her magic left hand could cause Kenya a lot of problems but Malkia Strikers will take notes from Violet Makuto who plays the same position and uses the same hand in training.