SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, May 22- After beating perennial African rivals Algeria 3-1 (25-14, 23-25, 25-14, 25-16) early Sunday morning, Kenya’s women volleyball team Malkia Strikers revived the slimmest of hopes of clinching an Olympic ticket at the World Qualifiers in Puerto Rico.
Malkia though will have to maneuver through a tricky tie against the hosts who only need to win two sets in the final game to be played early Monday morning for them to clinch the sole ticket to Rio Olympics.
The Puerto Ricans beat rivals Colombia by straight sets (25-17, 26-24, 25-18) to put themselves in a good qualification position.
Kenya currently sits third on the standings with three points, same as Colombia but with an inferior point difference.
They will need to beat Puerto Rico by straight sets and hope Colombia, who also have a chance, drop at least a set against Algeria to see themselves book a ticket to the Rio de Janeiro games in August.
Head coach David Lung’aho remains confident the team can pull a surprise and beat the hosts who have been in blistering form in the past two matches.
“Tomorrow’s match is going to be the most important one. It is going to be very tough but if we play the game that Kenya is used to playing then we have a chance to win. We wanted to win all matches but we lost the opener. Now we have the final one which we hope to finish off with a win,” Lung’aho said after Kenya dispatched Algeria.
Deputy captain Brackcedes Agala was Kenya’s best scorer in the match, amassing 23 points and five successful blocks out of 15 attempts.
Despite coming on as a late substitute in the second set, Trizah Atuka was Kenya’s second best scorer with 15 points, five of them coming off successful spikes out of ten attempts.
Lung’aho used a consistent seven players in the final three sets with Atuka coming in for Edith Wisa.
Captain Mercy Moim also upped her game against Algeria after enduring a disappointing evening in the first game against Colombia, winning 13 points for the team, four of them coming off successful spikes out of 23 attempts.
“We concentrated so much in this game because we lost yesterday and it was painful. We decided to focus and play better and we saw the results. Now we are looking at Puerto Rico and we are in a position to pick the three points. I am optimistic we can make it,” Moim said.
Meanwhile, the Kenyan team has not only been struggling to keep up with the huge seven hour difference between Kenya and Puerto Rico, but the food as well.
The girls, according to Captain Moim have been forced to feed on junk food from a fast food joint across the street in their hotel due to poor food quality at their residence.
“The food was too spicy, too salty and was also served in very small portions. The only food we were comfortable with in that menu was bread so we had no option but to look for a familiar meal at Macdonalds. We would prefer food we are all familiar with especially when we have crucial matches ahead of us,” Moim stated.