NAIROBI, September 13 – Kenya’s hopes of competing in next year’s World Junior Women’s Volleyball Championships were halted by a determined Tunisian outfit following a 3-1 loss at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on Friday.
The hosts failed to stop the North African Nation’s jinx in the concluded 12th Africa Junior Women’s championships, with a 13-25, 25-22, 25-14, 25-22 humbling by Tunisia.
Kenya began the first set with tension which allowed Tunisia to pile more pressure on them to lead 10-4 at the first technical time out.
Brenda Kamamoss’ and Nelly Tiete’s fouls gave Tunisia bonus points as Agrebbi Rahma punished Kenya’s shaky defense.
The host’s miseries continued with Evelyn Makuto’s heavy spikes out of target to give Tunisia an 18-8 comfortable lead at the third technical time out.
In the second set Kenya came on strongly after a pep talk from their coach to lead 9-7 at the first technical time out as a vicious Jacinta Nafula took control of the back court in stopping Tunisia’s frequent heavy strikes.
Jubilant fans rose to their feet as the game progressed as Doreen khaemba and Suzan Atemba’s good display garnered more points at will for Kenya.
A lull by the visitor’s side allowed Kenya to dominate as Chemtai Ndiema continued to threaten the back line for a 21-17 lead.
Kenya regained composure as they pushed their opponents with tricky spikes as the enterprising front line combined well to ensure that Kenya won 25-22.
On resumption the visitor’s Toubib Safa and Youssef Sonia took advantage of hosts poor service and bad reception of the ball to register quick points to settle for 17-8 at the second technical break.
Hanla Fikri, the international volleyball referee, was subsequently booed by angry fans for his decision making after awarding Tunisia points over fouls committed by Kenya.
Tunisia took advantage of their height to block heavy Kenyan spikes and the outstanding Habachi Faten ensured the visitor’s third set victory.
Tunisia went for early points in the fourth set as Kenya lacked rhythm in the game as sensational Jacinta Nafula was out of the game at the back.
Kenya’s technical bench was forced to call for a technical time out and late substitutionsnever brought out good results as the visitors grabbed more points.
More pressure mounted on the hosts as they made mistakes like blind service and touching of the net by Nelly Nekesa resulting in Kenya’s huge loss of 25-14.
Paul Bitok, the under 18 head coach said that his team lost focus in the game, making more mistakes and lacked experience to handle the opposition.
“It’s unfortunate that they didn’t play well and lacked concentration somewhere. I believe we lacked experience to match Tunisia and Egypt and I urge the Kenya volleyball federation to prepare early for such championships,” he noted
Assistant Sports Minister Kabando Wa Kabando however commended the team’s performance for finishing third in the tournament and challenged other learning institutions to develop talent.
“We are very happy that our junior volleyball team has finished third which is a success and celebration. So this constitutes a challenge to schools in developing talent in order to dominate in sports at the national level,” he said.
During the closing ceremony, Kenya’s team captain, Evelyn Makuto was named the best spiker of the tournament while Tunisia’s Habachi Faten was voted the best server. Egyptian Nahla Sameh emerged the most valuable player of the tournament.
Egypt who were crowned champions for the second year running and runners up Tunisia will represent Africa in next year’s Junior World Championships to be held in Mexico City.