Dominicans nail Kenya in four sets

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OKAYAMA, Japan, November 11 – The Dominican Republic women’s volleyball side piled more misery on African champions Kenya when they condemned them to a 3-1 reverse, their sixth straight defeat at the FIVB World Cup on Friday.

The clash played at the Momotaro Arena in Okayama, Japan saw the Caribbean nation prevail 25-18, 25-14, 26-28 and 25-19 for their second win while Kenya, whose rally in the third offered a glimmer of hope ended with the scant consolation of winning a second set in the tournament.

At least Everlyne Makuto who top scored for Paul Bitok’s side with 18 points left with her reputation enhanced when she was declared the Most Impressive Player in the match while Mercy Moim and Lydia Maiyo also contributed the spark by scoring 15 and 14.

However, tournament top scorer Bethania De La Cruz led her team past the African champions with 18 points with Priscilla Rivera and Candida Arias weighing in with 14 and 13 in a match where the winners out-blocked their opponents 12-10.

The Dominicans got off to a good start when Arias blocked Maiyo and the Kenyans struggled with serve of Milagros Cabral.

Another good block – by Lisvel Eve on captain Brackcides Khadambi – and a couple of Kenyan errors saw the Dominicans five points up at the first technical timeout.

Kenya had a couple of good spells in the second phase thanks initially to two Dominican errors and a pair of spikes by Moim, and then two great blocks – by Khadambi on Rivera and Makuto on Cabral.

Paul Bitok’s team pulled to within two points at 10-8 and one point at 13-12, but a couple of good hits by De La Cruz and more errors saw the gap widen again. An error brought up set-point and a routine spike by Rivera put the Dominicans 1-0 up.

Bitok called a timeout at 1-6 after more errors allowed the Dominican Republic to cruise into an early lead in the second but they battled back to 8-5 with Maiyo landing a couple of good hits.

Makuto landed a couple of trademark bombs, but she couldn’t prevent the lead from widening and the Dominicans were 16-9 up at the second TTO.

Three more Kenya put the Dominican Republic 19-10 up and prompted Bitok to call a timeout, but he couldn’t stop his team from defeating themselves.

An Arias spike earned the Dominicans set-point and a well-placed shot by De La Cruz put them 2-0 ahead.

Kenya started out on a more positive note in the third set, taking a 3-2 lead on a service ace by Moim, but spikes by De La Cruz, Cabral and Eve put the Caribbeans 8-5 in front at the first TTO.

The African chjampions finally found some rhythm in the second phase of the third set. A super block by Moim on Cabral put Kenya ahead at 11-10 and then they started showing how they can play.

A thumping drive down the line by Maiyo put them 13-12 up and a pair of Makuto rockets helped them extend their lead to four points at 18-14.

But then the wheels fell off and they dropped six straight points, prompting Bitok to call his players off court. Three dropped points later – the third a brilliant block by Khadambi on De La Cruz – had Dominican coach Marcos Kwiek calling a timeout and the Kenyans were up and running again.

Big hits by Mercy drew the teams level at 23 and 24 before Kenya earned two set-points – one through brilliant defending by libero Judith Tarus.

The Dominicans saved those, but Maiyo earned a third and Makuto pulverized the ball through the Dominican defence to earn her team only their second set in this World Cup.

The Dominican Republic took an 8-5 lead at the first TTO in the fourth set, but Kenya held on and were only a point behind at 12-11 after Diana Khisa sent down a serve the Dominicans couldn’t handle.

But a good block by Eve and a service ace by Rivera saw the gap widen to 15-11. Mercy kept things close, but the Kenyans weren’t helped when Ruth Jepngetich had to be carried off court with an ankle injury.

Match point came on a sharp crosscourt shot by Eve and De La Cruz had finished the match with ease after a reception error by Maiyo.

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