Maiyo’s bereavement rocks Kenya camp

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OKAYAMA, Japan, November 14 – The national volleyball women’s team taking part in the FIVB Women’s World Cup was plunged in mourning due to the death of the father of player Lydia Maiyo who happens to also be the uncle of coach Paul Bitok.

The sad news was informed by Bitok during the press conference following their match against Algeria on Sunday.

“It has been very difficult for me for the last two days because one of our players, Maiyo, who happens to be my cousin, lost her father in Eldoret,” Bitok stated. “It has affected us and our concentration has dropped.”

The father of Maiyo, who has been ill for an undetermined period, died of natural causes, Bitok said. The team was making arrangements for Maiyo’s return to Kenya to be present in the funeral.

Maiyo had expressed her desire to stay with the team in Japan until the match against Algeria which had great significance for both countries.

“My condolences for the loss of your uncle,” Algeria’s coach Ahmed Boukacem expressed during the press conference. “It must be very difficult for you and your team members and I hope you can overcome this personal hardship.”

Meanwhile, Algeria battled to a tough win over Kenya to end any hopes the African champions had of securing their second victory at the World Cup since 1991.

After Kenya took the first set Algeria turned tables to prevail 3-1 (19-25, 25-20, 25-16, 25-23) at Momotaro Arena to earn their first win of the tournament.

Algeria’s top scorer Faiza Tsabet won the Most Impressive Player award after netting 23 points. The only other Algerian to get into double figure was Lydia Oulmou with 12. Kenya’s top scorers were Everlyne Makuto and Mercy Moim with 20 points each.

The scores remained tied through 6-6, when Algeria went on a five-point surge, with three good strikes from Tsabet, a block by Fatima Zahra Oukazi on Moim and a brilliant well-placed push shot from Oukazi.

But a big Moim hit and a service ace by setter Janet Wanja got Kenya back into the game.

Makuto then came up with four big points, followed by a block by Brackcides Khadambi on Salima Hammouche that drew the teams level at 15.

Then it was the Kenyans’ turn to surge, with Moim taking over the scoring in the final phase. When Khadambi made a brilliant block on Tsabet to make the score 20-15, there was no way back for Algeria.

A netted shot by Tsabet brought set-point and Makuto finished off the set with a bullet through the Algerian defence.

The Kenyans switched off at the start of the second set. Algeria’s first six points came on Kenyan errors before Bitok called a timeout at 1-6 following a Moin thunderbolt.

But after three straight errors from his players, Algerian coach Ahmed Boukacem hauled his team off court.

A block by Maiyo on Safia Boukhima brought the teams level at 8-8 but good work from Tsabet and Aicha Mezemate allowed Algeria to pull away again and they were five points ahead at the second TTO.

Boukacem called a timeout after Kenya pulled to within two points at 18-20, but that was as close as Kenya could get. A sharp hit from Tsabet brought up set-point and a net served by Wanja drew the teams’ level at 1-1.

– Sourced from FIVB

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