- Malkia thrashed Nigeria by straight sets
- Veronica Odhiambo was named best player
- They will take on hosts Cameroon in the semis
National women’s volleyball team, Malkia Strikers, are through to the CAVB African Nations Championship after thrashing Nigeria in a one-sided quarterfinal match played at the Palais Polyvalent des Sports in Yaounde on Tuesday.
The East Africans picked a straight-sets victory in 3-0 (25-14, 25-7, 25-11) in a match that the team dominated from start to finish.
Coach Luizomar de Moura maintained his usual starting lineup of captain Mercy Moim, Sharon Chepchumba, Veronica Adhiambo, Edith Wisah, Trizah Atuka, Emmaculate Nekesa and libero Agripina Kundu.
The Kenyan had strong starts in all three sets, leaving the Nigerians no room for comebacks or an opportunity to press them hard.
At the end of the match, Adhiambo was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) with her strong serves and attacks having carried Malkia Strikers through to an easy win.
Assistant coach Paul Bitok in his post-match interview admitted to not wanting to meet hosts Cameroon in the all-important semifinals but in a quick rejoinder said the team is ready for any opponent.
Kept winning streak going
“I am happy that the players have kept the winning streak going. Morale in camp is high and the players are fully focused on the two tasks ahead, qualifying for the Olympics and reclaiming the title.
“We know playing the hosts is tough given they have the fans going for them and that requires the opponent to be mentally strong. We are, however, ready for the task ahead,” Bitok offered.
On her part, Adhiambo says that her game in the quarters wasn’t the best and was surprised to be named MVP, adding that she is hoping for a better show in the semis as she looks to guide the team to the all-important final.
“I am really delighted to have been named player of the match especially because we have so many talented players in the team. Now the work is not yet done because we have to keep our focus for the next two matches,” she said after the game.
Switch attention to Cameroon duel
Malkia will now switch their attention to Wednesday night’s semi-final against hosts Cameroon, a match regarded as a final before a final.
The Kenyan girls have lost to the Cameroonians in three consecutive finals, and they will seek early revenge as they plot a route for a record extending 10th African crown.
Assistant coach Bitok has admitted it will not be an easy fixture against the Cameroonians, but says the team has showed immense potential and improvement.
“Our reception and service is now way better compared to how we were before. We need to keep on improving,” Bitok said.
Cameroon progressed to the semis after seeing off Morocco by straight sets (25-17, 25-23, 25-15). In the other semi-final, Egypt will take on Rwanda. The Egyptians saw off Uganda by straight sets in their quarter final duel while Rwanda beat Algeria 3-2 in a tightly contested match.