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World Cup woe continues for Kenya

TOYAMA, Japan, November 9 – Korea breezed past Kenya in three straight sets in the battle of the bottom team sides in the ongoing FIVB World Cup at Toyama City Gymnasium in Japan on Wednesday.

Paul Bitok’s side slumped to their fifth successive tournament defeat in 25-21, 25-15 and 25-14 as the expected stiff challenge they had promised after running favoured USA, Brazil and European champions Serbia close in previous matches.

Hwang Youn-Joo picked up the Most Impressive Player award after scoring 13 points, including four service points in a match Kim Yeon-Koung top-scored for Korea with 14 while Hee-Jin Kim added 10 including four blocks.

The joint top scorers for Kenya were Everlyne Makuto and Mercy Moim with 11 apiece.

Korea out-blocked Kenya 12-3 and also held a 10-6 margin in the service points category.

With both teams looking for their first win of the tournament and coming off good performances the day before, this was expected to be a closely fought match.

Kenya got into their stride first with Moim finding her range, but Korea captain Kim Se-Young made a couple of excellent blocks – on Makuto and Mercy – as the scores remained close.

Kenya took a two-point lead at the first technical timeout after Korea failed to deal with a spike by captain Brackcides Khadambi, but that was wiped out by three successive hitting errors that put Korea in the lead for the first time.

After falling three points behind, Kenya pulled back to within one at 14-13 before two more errors and two more good blocks by Se-Young gave Korea five points of breathing space.

With Kenya failing to fire on all cylinders, Korea had no trouble protecting their lead. Kim Hee-Jin brought up set-point with a spike and a wide shot by Kenya put Korea 1-0 up.

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Korea pressed home their advantage in the second set. Two errors by Kenya and a big serve by Yeon-Koung saw Korea five points up at the first TTO.

A massive block by Khadambi on Yeon-Koung couldn’t stop the Korean express, and after two more poor attempts at service reception that dropped Kenya to 12-4, coach Paul Bitok called a timeout.

Kenya were 10 points back at the second TTO and in need of a change and they did tighten up, but with no pressure on them, Korea could relax.

Yeon-Koung delivered a service bomb to make the score 23-11 and a wide lob by Makuto brought up set-point. Kenya managed to get to 15 points before Hwang finished the set off with a trademark thump.

Four dropped points into the second set, Bitok had to haul his players off court for a talking to. Whatever he said worked as Korea went off the boil.

A crushing kill by Moim kick-started Kenya and she delivered some good serves that caused two reception errors by Korea and brought Kenya level at 7-7.

But Bitok’s side could not sustain the challenge. Two big blocks by Kim Hee-Jin and a slew of Kenyan errors saw Korea into the comfort zone with a 16-9 lead at the second TTO.

A run of eight points was only stopped when Hwang sent a service long. Korea went 10 points ahead at 23-13 when Kenya failed to deal with a serve by Joo Yea-Na and brought up match point on a spike by Kim Hye-Jin. Kenya then failed to deal with Korea’s next serve and the match was over.

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