WŁOCŁAWEK, Poland, June 10- Kenya’s women volleyball team will need to win their next two matches against Argentina and hosts Poland if they are to harbor any hopes of remaining afloat in Group Two at the World Grand Prix.
Malkia Strikers lost their first match in the second round competition against Puerto Rico on Friday evening, a loss that sees the team remain bottom of the standings having failed to pick a single set in four matches.
Despite resilience and much improved play in the second and third sets, Puerto Rico needed an hour and 26 minutes to inflict a second loss to Kenya in less than three weeks, the two having met already in the Olympic Qualifiers held at the former’s home ground.
The David Lung’aho’s girls never had quite a good start to the match, losing the set 25-11 courtesy of some fast attacks by the Puerto Ricans and elements of errors on the blocks by Kenya.
At the first technical time out, Kenya was trailing 8-3. Upon resumption, Kenya’s game still remained below par and with Puerto Rico stretching the scores to 11-3, Lung’aho had to call in his first time out.
That did not work either as Puerto Rico kept the pressure and were 16-6 up at the second technical time out.
Despite Natalia Valentin serving straight into the net to give Kenya some hope with the score at 22-11, it would prove to be the last mistake from Puerto Rico as they went on to win the set 25-11.
The second set was a different affair as Kenya sought to take charge of the game from the first serve, Evelyn Makuto using her experience to guide the team as they stretched to an early 8-5 lead at the first technical time out.
But Puerto Rico managed to rally from behind to level the set score at 11-ups and this prompted coach Lung’aho to bring in Trizah Atuka, to add some strength to the blocks and attack.
The seesaw affair in the second set went on with Kenya matching their opponents but lost the lead at the second technical time out, Puerto Rico leading 16-15.
Coming back, Puerto Rico tightened their service and attack and managed to head on to the hurdle with a final score of 25-20.
But the Kenyan girls’ spirit never died out despite going two sets down and they were more than determined to at least take the game to a five-set match.
Puerto Rico though, unbeaten in their first three matches were not ready to have another nerve wrecking set and they took the tally to a 16-5 lead at the second technical time out.
The South American ladies kept the tempo and seemed to be heading to a landslide win in the final set, stretching the scores to 18-10.
Lung’aho’s shouts from the technical area however awakened his girls and they managed to close in the gap with Noel Murambi’s strong attack edging Kenya to a 23-22 score, giving them hope of their first set win in the tournament.
But it was never enough as Puerto Rico pulled their A game, Santana Daily finishing off the set with a powerful spike that the Kenyan block-wall could not handle.
Evelyn Makuto and Brackcedes Agala were Kenya’s best players with eight and seven points respectively.
Puerto Rico leads Group Two with 11 points followed by the Dominican Republic who have nine. At the bottom is Kenya and Canada, both who have not won a single match in the group.
If Kenya wins at least one of the remaining two matches by straight sets, they will hope Canada and Czech Republic lose both their matches, the only scenario for them to evade relegation.
Malkia face Argentina on Saturday night before finishing up their campaign against hosts Poland who have won two of their opening three matches.