TOYAMA, Japan, November 8 – Kenya once again showed they can perform well against top teams in the FIVB World Cup on Tuesday but were unable to stop tournament leaders USA, who maintained their unbeaten record with another 3-0 (25-16, 25-13, 25-21) win at Toyama City Gymnasium.
Megan Hodge picked up the Most Impressive Player award after top-scoring for the Americans with 20 points, including five service points.
Veterans Tayyiba Haneef-Park and Danielle Scott-Arruda contributed 13 and 9 respectively to the USA victory.
Kenya were led by captain Brackcides Khadambi with 12 points in a match USA out-served Kenya 11-3.
Kenya got an early spike from Lydia Maiyo to pull to 2-2, but USA pulled away to 6-2. Maiyo kept Kenya in the game with a couple of more scoring hits, but Hodge was also getting into her rhythm as her team moved to an 8-4 lead at the first technical timeout.
After USA extended their lead to 11-4, Kenya captain Brackcides Khadambi came up with two imperious blocks – on Cynthia Barboza and Jennifer Tamas – that brought Kenya back into the game.
With both teams showing good defence, Khadambi added a couple of good spikes and Kenya closed to within three points at 15-12 and two at 16-14.
But then the Americans pulled away again and two massive serves by Hodge brought up set point. Kenya saved one, but a gentle pushover by Tayyiba Haneef-Park put the Americans 1-0 up.
The second set started much as the first did, with Kenya getting a couple of early points before USA pulled away and coach Paul Bitok called a timeout. Only this time there was no Kenyan comeback.
USA moved from 2-2 to 10-2 behind another good spell of serving from Haneef-Park and were 16-5 ahead at the second TTO.
There was a brief wag of the tail by Kenya as they pulled back from 20-8 to 23-12, but set-point came when the Kenyans failed to deal with a serve by Danielle Scott-Arruda.
After a nice spike from Everlyne Makuto a slick crosscourt kill by Barboza put USA 2-0 ahead.
USA went off the boil slightly at the start of the third set and Kenya found good contributions from Diana Khisa (two big kills) and Khadambi (a pair of spikes and a superb block on Barboza).
Kenya were one point ahead at the first TTO and USA coach Hugh McCutcheon called his players off court when they dropped the next two points on errors.
Another great block – by Khisa on Hodge – helped Kenya extend their lead to 13-9 and they held on to lead by a point at the second TTO after a big hit by Makuto.
But USA kept the pressure on and were soon back in front. Hodge delivered a spike and another devastating serve to take the score to 22-19. Hodge brought up match-point with a hit down the middle, but a long serve by Maiyo ended the match.