Cameroon dominate Malkia Strikers to retain African title
Stanley Mativoin Kigali, Rwanda
Brave Malkia Strikers on Sunday night fell 3-1 to Cameroon in the final as the Lionesses won a third successive African Nations Volleyball Championships title here in Rwanda.
The West African queens tossed to their third continental title at the expense of the Kenyans with a win of 25-21, 25-23, 15-25, 25-23 sets at the Kigali Arena. The Jean Rene Akono-coached side completed the double over the Kenyans following a 3-0 win in a preliminary tie.
This is the third successive final Kenya is falling to Cameroon with the West Africans, once again, denying the East African queens their record-extending tenth continental title.
Head coach Paul Bitok started with Sharon Chepchumba, Esther Mutinda, Agripina Kundu, Leonida Kasaya, Edith Wisa and Gladys Ekaru with captain Mercy Moim being her first time to be in the starting six after coming from the bench in the previous matches.
In the epic final match, Cameroon were the first to come off the blocks winning the first and second sets with 25-21, 25-23 as Kenyans struggled with poor services, unforced errors and inexperience in the two sets.
In the third set, Malkia Strikers started on a higher note leading 8-5 in the first technical timeout and 16-10 in the second technical timeout and held on to win 25-15, but suffered a major blow after promising middle blocker Gladys Ekaru injured her a knee. She was replaced by her fellow Kwanthanze Secondary School alumnus Loraine Chebet.
The fourth set was a neck-to-neck affair with Cameroon emerging triumphant on 25-23 points to extinguish Kenya’s hopes of winning her first African title since 2015.
Both finalists booked the next year’s World Championships ticket to be held in Netherlands.
The team returns home on Monday afternoon aboard Kenya Airways.