US test for Kenya’s misfiring queens

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NAIROBI, Kenya, November 7- The women’s volleyball FIVB World Cup in Japan resumes Tuesday with the African champions Kenya keen to end their tournament on a high after three opening defeats in the competition thus far.

Following the results, Kenya will be not among the two countries that will qualify for the semis from Pool B but will be hoping for a better showing when they take on one of the powerhouses, USA in Nagano.

The African champions will then take on Korea in their last pool game on Wednesday before playing for positions thereafter.

So far, Kenya have lost 3-0 to Germany, 3-0 to the world’s top ranked side, Brazil before another spirited 3-1 defeat to European champions, Serbia on Sunday.

“First, I want to congratulate my players for taking a set from a big team like Serbia. This was our main objective playing against the good teams – to try and get sets or improve our scores. We will continue to try and get more sets from big teams like USA,” head coach Paul Bitok said after his team’s match against Serbia.

“In the next round, we will meet teams of our level and with the experience we have gained from the first round, it will help us improve. My players still lack concentration and forget what they are doing, so we will continue to make corrections.

“But I’m happy that we are now challenging the big teams. In the next few years, I’m sure we will go to the top,” he added.

Team captain Brackcides Khadambi noted, “I would say it was a very interesting game. Today, we improved our reception and our execution of attacks, although in the third and fourth sets we lost a bit of concentration, but today we played better than in the past two matches.

“I think if we continue to play as we played today, we are going to win matches in the future and being the Most Impressive Player against Serbia is a good thing and gives morale to my team.”

Bitok, who was recalled from Rwanda to take the side to the World Cup, aimed his sights at qualifying for next year’s Olympics during the ensuing Africa qualifiers.

“This is the first time we have the chance to compete against teams like Brazil and United States so it is the right moment to prepare for the African Continental Olympic Qualifier,” says Paul Bitok, former men’s national team player and currently the coach of the women’s side.

The zonal event will take place in a country still to be designed but Bitok rated the chances of his country to be among the 12 sides competing in London.

“Now we have more chances to play against good teams,” Bitok comments. “In the past we only competed in Africa, but now with the Championship Clubs held in Qatar every year we have more opportunities to get experience.”

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