WLOCLAWEK, Poland, June 12- Kenya’s Malkia Strikers have been relegated from Group Two of the FIVB World Grand Prix after losing their final match against Argentina by straight sets (26 – 24, 25 – 22, 25 – 17) in Poland on Sunday night.
Kenya bows out winless in Group Two, just after a one-off experience and more hurting is the fact they have been bundled out without even winning a single set.
Malkia Strikers needed to win against Argentina by all costs and hope the stars arrange in their favour in Canada’s results, but they failed to sparkle despite producing a better performance compared to how they played against the hosts Poland on Saturday.
Captain Mercy Moim showed her mettle, producing a player of the match performance picking a whooping 18 points, 13 of them coming off 35 spike attempts.
Noel Murambi picked six points while Brackcedes Agala and Triza Atuka who only played a set and a half picked four points each.
David Lung’aho’s girls pulled off a superb comeback in the first set to almost snatch it away off the Argentines but failed to hold on to their nerves in the end the set going to the South Americans 26-24.
Argentina went for the second technical time out with a 16-12 lead and upon return went all out to stretch to 21-16 with Emile Sosa’s ace helping the team pull away.
Kenya crawled back and went 21-ups after Florencia Natasha Busquets Reyes was blocked and then Leticia Boscacci spiked into the net.
Boscaci amended for her error with a superb spike that dropped under Moim’s single block, but the Kenyan skipper responded to take the game back level.
Argentina started strongly in the second set and were leading 8-2 by the time of the first technical time out.
Just like they did in the first set, Kenya picked up and went into the lead for the first time in the game, a mistake from Yael Castiglione taking Malkia Strikers15-14 up.
The introduction of Atuka strengthened the African Queens’ attack and the Kenya Pipeline middle blocker forced the Argentines into reception errors from her strong serves.
However, the team could not maintain the momentum and an ace from Josefina Fernandez made it 24-22, just after Moim had placed the ball in to a blind spot of the Argentine court.
The South American girls rounded up the set after Atuka stepped an inch into the Argentine half of the court as she went for a powerful spike.
Argentina made it easy in the final set as they strolled to a 25-17 win; a disappointing end to Kenya’s fighting spirit.
The team returns to Nairobi on Monday but will have to contend with a position back in Group Three next season with the likes of current leaders Croatia, Colombia and Peru waiting to give stiff competition.
Kenya might find themselves as the only African team in the Grand Prix with Argentina staring at relegation with a match left in Group Three.