NAGANO, Japan, November 5 – Kenya displayed inventiveness, courage, joy, determination and enthusiasm as they went down to world number one side Brazil in their second FIVB World Cup match on Saturday.
Defeat for the African champions was never in doubt but the Brazilians laboured to a straight set victory (25-12, 25-16, 25-9) with Mercy Moim and Everlyne Makuto leading the spirited resistance.
Tandara Caixeta, Brazil’s top scorer with 15 points bagged The Most Impressive Player award with Moim and Makuto scoring eight each in a match where the South Americans out-blocked Kenya 11-3 and out-served them 4-0.
Kenya got on the scoresheet early with a crisp hit from Moim and, as usual, celebrated as if they’d won the tournament.
Diana Khisa and Esther Wangechi added more good hits, but Brazil were still four points ahead at the first technical timeout.
– Report by FIVB
When Kenya fell behind 11-4, coach Paul Bitok called a timeout and his players responded with three straight points, including a great block by Khisa on Welissa Gonzaga.
But they could manage only one more point before the second TTO and they weren’t helped by a couple of wayward serves.
Brazil, playing a second-string line-up, continued to hit big and the Kenyans defended with great passion, but the gap continued to grow.
Set point came when captain Brackcides Khadambi sent a shot wide and Brazil went 1-0 up when a brilliant reaction save by Janet Wanja wasn’t followed up by her team mates.
Adenizia Silva, Caixeta and Gonzaga delivered some more big hits at the start of the second set and Bitok called a timeout at 0-4.
The Kenyans kept fighting and Lydia Maiyo scored successive points as they recovered to 6-7, before Brazil edged ahead again to 13-8.
But the Kenyans fought back and seemed to be enjoying the match more than their illustrious opponents.
Moim came up with a couple of good hits as Kenya drew to within two points at 14-12, but when Brazil hit 20 points – at 20-13 – Bitok brought his players off court for a talk.
Brazil reached set-point on a good hit by Fernanda Rodrigues and went 2-0 up on a kill by Caixeta, but the Kenyans were doing themselves proud against the world number ones.
Kenya started badly at the start of the third set but still showed sparks of brilliance at times, particularly on defence.
They were 8-1 down at the first TTO before pulling back to 12-5 with some decent work by Makuto.
Brazil kept pushing and were 11 points ahead at the second TTO with Kenya unable to do much to stop them. Match point came when Rodrigues blocked Maiyo and it was all over when Cristina Barreto blocked a shot by Makuto.