- Malkia had to come from a set down
- Skipper Mercy Moim was elated with the victory
- They face Egypt in the final
National women’s volleyball team, Malkia Strikers, are through to the final of the ongoing CAVB African Nations Championship after coming back from a set down to beat Cameroon 3-1 (25-27, 25-14, 25-11, 25-18) and book Egypt in the gold medal match.
The Luizomar de Moura-coached had to content with a palpable atmosphere at a fully packed Palais Polyvalent des Sports arena, a crowd that literally cheered the home team to victory in the first set.
Sensing danger, the Kenyan girls came back guns blazing to lead 7-3 in the second set and it was as good as over but, careful not to be complacent, they kept pushing and went on to win the set 25-14 and bring the match level.
Luizomar’s charges were even more clinical in the third set, going ahead by 11 points at 16-5 with solid blocks from Trizah Atuka and Edith Wisah key in that performance.
Sharon Chepchumba’s services also proved too hard for the home team as Veronica Adhiambo added insult to injury with her powerful attacks.
The win was even more convincing in the third set, Kenya taking the lead at 2-1 with a 25-11 performance in the third set.
A shaky start in the fourth set saw Kenya go behind 5-6 earlier on, much to the excitement of the fans who had stayed on when droves left after Kenya went ahead 2-1.
Their excitement was, however, short-lived as Kenya recovered to win the set 25-18.
“This was a crucial game for us. The plan was to lead from the onset and put pressure on the hosts, knowing that any rallies would easily end in their favour as they had the fans’ support.
“The first set, obviously did not go to plan, but the players recovered well for this win. With that we are 90% sure of qualifying for next year’s Olympic as we have gained more points with this victory.
“The only way they an African team can go ahead in ranking is if they compete in FIVB competitions outside Africa,” said Bitok adding that playing Egypt in the final will be tough.
Meanwhile, skipper Mercy Moim was also delighted with the performance of the team and the victory, saying the girls showed character especially with a partisan crowd against them.
“We did very well and everyone worked their part. We knew we would face a very hostile crowd but we told ourselves as a team we will not let that get into our minds. We worked so well and everyone gave 100 percent,” Moim said.
Sweet victory for Kenyan girls
It was a sweet victory for the Kenyan girls who had lost the final to Cameroon in three consecutive occasions.
The girls will now take on Egypt in the final, as they look to clinch a record extending 10th African crown. Egypt made the final after thrashing Rwanda by straight sets.
“It will not be easy against Egypt. We have watched them and they are really strong. Their performances have been really good. We also have to be at our best,” Moim noted.
Winning the African Championship will be a massive boost for Malkia especially as it will also count for points towards qualification for the Olympic Games.