volleyball

Malkia Strikers have a feel of competition venue ahead of Olympics serve off

kenya volleyball team players

The national women’s volleyball team, Malkia Strikers had a feel of the Tokyo Olympics competition venue, the Ariake Arena, on Thursday ahead of their opening game against hosts Japan on Sunday afternoon.

The team has trained in Japan for three days since arriving from Kurume City where they had a 10-day camp, but were on Thursday allowed to have a run-in around the Ariake Arena.

“The competition venue is one of the best. We really enjoyed on our first training and we were so excited to be in this arena and I believe it will be the same when we play the first match against hosts Japan on Sunday,” coach Paul Bitok said after the team’s training session.

“We have been here before for the World Cup and the World Championship, but this Arena is really good. It has a very good atmosphere. Everyone would like to be in this kind of situation, this kind of arena. We are feeling this is the real Olympics. When you are inside alone, you are already motivated because of the facility,” further said Bitok.

 

Malkia Strikers training in Tokyo. PHOTO/Miriam Jeske/COB

Malkia are drawn in a tough Pool A and apart from Japan, they will face off with South Korea, Dominican Republic, former Olympic Champions Brazil and Serbia.

Bitok says the first game will be very important to set the pace for the rest of the tournament and says they have taken time to analyse Japan with their strengths and weaknesses.

“The game against Japan will be very important because I will set the tempo for us. I know such games such as Japan and South Korea are some which we are very capable to win. We have watched most of their videos and tried to analyze their strengths and weaknesses and I believe we are ready for the first game,” stated the coach.

Malkia are drawn in a tough Pool A and apart from Japan, they will face off with South Korea, Dominican Republic, former Olympic Champions Brazil and Serbia.

Malkia in training. PHOTO/Miriam Jeske/COB

Bitok says the first game will be very important to set the pace for the rest of the tournament and says they have taken time to analyze Japan with their strengths and weaknesses.

“The game against Japan will be very important because I will set the tempo for us. I know such games such as Japan and South Korea are some which we are very capable to win. We have watched most of their videos and tried to analyze their strengths and weaknesses and I believe we are ready for the first game,” stated the coach.

Bitok at the same time is pleased with how well the team has prepared towards the Olympic Games and notes that the camp in Kurume and the few days they will have in Tokyo has handed them a massive confidence boost.

He says they have also improved their weak areas, sharpened their strengths with the help of the four Brazilian coaches who were seconded to the team by the FIVB.

One of the Brazilian coaches. PHOTO/Miriam Jeske/COB

“Technically, we are ok. We have worked on various departments. Before, we used to lift weights and had two trainings per week. But once the Brazilians came in, we have been working daily, working on strength conditioning, which we were not used to.

“One of the strategies we have been working on is to target teams that are not ranked high. We study their games and some of the matches we have played against them.

After playing the first game against hosts Japan on Sunday, Malkia will turn their attention to South Korea on Tuesday and if they manage back to back wins, then they will earn a ticket to the second round, something they have pegged as a minimum target.

Malkia in training. PHOTO/Miriam Jeske/COB

“We are excited to play the first match. We want to win matches. We want to be in the second round. The girls are in good spirit especially now that everything has been offered by the government,” said Bitok.

The last time Kenya’s Malkia Strikers played at the Olympic Games was in 2004 where they finished bottom of their group, failing to win a single match. This time round, they are more than determined to ensure they get at least to the second round.

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