Makuto honoured as Kenya woeful run ends

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TOKYO, Japan, November 18 – Kenya may have completed their FIVB World Cup journey in last place but they will not leave the competition empty handed with the great experience they got facing the toughest teams in the world.

Kenya’s final match against Italy ended on a sweet note as Everlyne Makuto received the Most Improved Player award.

“Our team has improved a lot but we need to improve more. We need to have good practise with other top teams outside since there is much more we could learn,” Makuto told FIVB.

As a schoolgirl, Makuto was inspired to play volleyball by her elder sister. That inspiration was translated into a brighter future as she represents Kenya in the FIVB World Cup.

Makuto was formerly the captain of Kenya in the 2009 FIVB Women’s Junior World Championship. And now that she is with the senior team, she carried on with her duties for the FIVB World Cup as Kenya’s leading scorer.

Makuto finds the competition as a good training ground for Kenya to develop their game. The good facilities that Japan have is an upgrade for them considering they sometimes play outdoors in Kenya.

“I want to play professional volleyball and if we continue being at such competitions, we will eventually win the gold medal,” Makuto added after their campaign came to a close with 11 defeats out of 11 matches played.

After defeat to China on Thursday, Kenya faced defending champions Italy in their final match and the Europeans moved into first place in the competition a 3-0 (25-6, 25-10, 25-17) win over Kenya in their final match at Yoyogi Stadium on Friday.

After losing their first match of this World Cup against a strong USA squad on Thursday, a second-string Italian line-up handily defeated an inexperienced Kenyans, extending their winning record against the Africa champions to four games.

While Italy, on 28 points, secured an Olympic ticket on Wednesday they now await USA’s match against Japan in the last game of the day (the Americans have 26 points), to see if they can hang on to first place in the tournament.

Leading Italy on the day in scoring was Raphaela Folie with 13 points, including three blocks.

For the winless Kenyan side, Makuto posted nine in a contest that they clearly enjoyed looking ahead to the continental Olympic qualifying tournaments next year.

The world No. 15 didn’t enjoy the beginning however with Italy, ranked seventh, taking the first 13 points of the match as Caterina Bosetti delivered two aces, with Carolina del Pilar Costagrande and Sara Anzanello playing great up front at the net.

Kenya’s Esther Wangechi shone briefly, interrupting the Italians momentarily with a clever tip over a blocking Costagrande, followed by a great drive past Lucia Bosetti on the wing to make it 15-3.

Italy had a chance to play Noemi Signorile and Raphaela off the bench, and both performed well, helping Italy close an easy set 25-6.

Makuto showed flashes of brilliance to start the second set, driving no less that four hard spikes past Italy to keep her side even at five.

That forced Italy to bring some extra attention her way, and with Anzanello and Caterina Bosetti bringing three blocks Italy went up 14-6.

Folie and Signorile kept blocking well for Italy, posting three consecutive blocks down the stretch – two on Noel Murambi – to help take the second 25-10.

Makuto opened the third ambitiously with a hard spike, but more blocking by Folie and back-to-back aces from Anzanello let Italy jump way ahead again.

Makuto brought a high-flying back attack, pasteurising the Italian defence for a moment, though Italy still led 9-3.

But Kenya surprised everyone by sticking close, going on a five point run capped by two straight blocks on Caterina Bosetti by Mercy Moim and Khisa Diana. Moim followed later with an ace and Murambi with a hard spike to bring Kenya within four at 20-16.

But Italy was just out of their league as Costagrande emphasized with a rocket to the corner to the end, taking the set 24-17 — though Kenya won much respect in the final frame.

– Sourced from FIVB.com

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