NAIROBI, February 15 – The national women’s volleyball team suffered a major setback after failing to clinch a direct ticket to Rio Olympic Games, following their 3-2 (22-25, 26-24, 25-16, 20-25, 17-19) defeat to Egypt in the Africa qualifier semi-finals held in Yaunde, Cameroon on Monday night.
Kenya will now fight to finish third for them to try their luck in the World Olympic Qualifier tournament alongside the runners-up of the continental contest, where only the winner earns an automatic qualification to the Summer Games scheduled for August.
The match lasting 127 minutes showed extra ordinary performance from the winners but the middle blocker Mariam Metwally and opposite spiker Aya El Shami played the greatest role in the victory.
El Shami scored impressive 34 points making the competition best scoring performance so far, while Metwally closed the ways of the Kenyan attacks with her stuff blocks scoring 10 points.
Malkia Strikers skipper, Mercy Moim led the Kenyan scorers with 19 points followed by Lydia Maiyo and Kibor Chelgat 16 points each.
The pulsating five set semi-final thriller saw Egypt stretch the African Champions to win in the tie breaker after a 2-2 draw.
The North Africans who ended Kenya’s unbeaten run in the week-long competition, won the opening set by a margin of two points but the Malkia Strikers recovered to claim the second by a similar gap before commanding the third set and take a 2-1 lead.
The All Africa Games gold medallists failed to wrap up the tight contest after they fumbled in the fourth set to allow Egypt lead from start to finish and push the match to a tie breaker.
In the decider, Kenya rallied two points down to lead 10-6 in the first technical time out, but Egypt made a swift comeback to level 14-14 before leading by a point in the second break and eventually took control to bundle out the favorites.
To reach the last four, the Japheth Munala side beat Tunisia by straight sets before overcoming Cameroon 3-1 to top Pool A.
Kenya last participated in the Olympics in 2004, when the Games were hosted in Greece where the Malkia Strikers failed to progress past the group stages.
The African Queens will take on holders Algeria in the third place play-off while Egypt face Cameroon in the final.