Malkia Strikers spank DR Congo
Stanley Mativo in Kigali
Kenya women’s volleyball team Malkia Strikers on Monday afternoon stood up with an emphatic display against DRC Congo at the ongoing Africa Nations Volleyball Championships in Kigali, to shrug off Sunday’s underwhelming start against Cameroon.
The nine-time African champions stepped up when required and took total control of the second Pool ‘B’ fixture with a resounding 3-0 victory at the Petit Stade Arena to get back on the track, after starting in an unusually sluggish manner against Cameroon who beat them by straight sets on Sunday.
The win is a huge sigh of relief to head coach Paul Bitok who despite fielding an injury-hit team , with captain Mercy Moim starting from the bench, still went on to blow the Congolese 25-11, 25-12 and 25-19.
Bitok made three changes in the starting six to the team which was defeated by the defending champions with Sharon Chepchumba, Leonida Kasaya, Edith Wisa, Pamela Masaisai, Esther Mutinda and Lorine Chebet leading the Kenyans in the first set.
In the one sided contest, Malkia Strikers were 8-1 in the first technical time of the first set and 16-4 in the second technical time out before wrapping the set with a 25-11 point win.
Bitok maintained the same starting lineup in the second set and the Kenyans comfortably eased to victory with 25-12 with captain Moim coming in the third set to guide them to a 25-19 victory.
Speaking to Citizen Digital, Bitok heaped praise on the squad for the outstanding performance describing the win as a good boost as they prepare to face tricky Tunisia on Wednesday.
“This was a must win game for us to ensure we stay on course for the semi finals. Moim and Chepchumba are now getting back to their level best after recovery of their recent injuries but I’m also cautious and that’s why Moim started on the bench. I don’t want to rush her.
“We’ve perfected in the areas which hurt us yesterday against Cameroon and now I’m getting used to which starting six to play with in each game because I have introduced new players who now have started to click with the rest of the squad. We’re taking one game at a time,” he said.
Bitok also hailed promising setter Mutinda, who kept her position in the first and second sets during the match, saying she is a great prospect in the squad after she earned her call up to the team to replace injured Jane Wacu.
“She has stepped up today and shown a great character, and I’m very happy because I know her alongside Luseneka (Joy) will soon be at the stage where Wacu has been. If the duo maintains the determination then I will not have any worries in that position.”
Tuesday is a resting day for the teams and the Kenyans will be up against Tunisia on Wednesday starting 5pm at the Kigali Arena.