NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr – Kenya Prisons was knocked out of the race for a sixth African Club Championship title after losing their semi-final match 3-1 (25-21,25-13,24-26, 25-24) to hosts Carthage in Monastir, Tunisia on Friday evening.
The loss extends Kenya’s draught for Africa’s most prestigious club competition title to four years. Prisons is the last Kenyan side to have lifted this title in 2012 while Kenya’s other participants in these games, Kenya Pipeline who were bundled out in the quarters last won it in 2005.
The opening set was fairly balanced with Prisons dictating the proceeding but they could not hold to their slim lead when the former national champions allowed Carthage to catch up with them. The Arabs tied the scores nine ups only to wind up the set 25-21.
Prisons, who knocked out compatriots Pipeline in the quarter finals on Thursday, boast of five continental titles to their name. That history however was not scary enough to intimidate the hosts who opened the gap after snatching the second set 25-13 in the second set.
Prisons however, resisted a three-nil caging, staging a comeback in the third set which they won 26-24 to cut Carthage lead to just a point. But poor reception would later cost them the much needed fourth set which they surrendered in just under 15.
Things seemed be working for the Kenyan officers, once a dreaded outfit in these competition but they paid the prize for their poor receptions and back court coverage.
Setter Jane Wacu was pulled out for Joy Lusenaka with Loice Tarus replacing veteran Braxcides Agala, a natural middle blocker temporarily converted to a strong player by David Lung’aho. The changes however, did not bore any fruit.
Carthage took a massive 16-5 lead at the second technical time out, further widening the gap 21-12 only to wrap up the set 25-14 and the game three-one.
Just like Pipeline, Prisons will have to go back to the drawing board, rectify their mistakes and start early preparations for the next edition in 2018, shall they both qualify.
Prisons will now play for second and third playoff while Pipeline will fight for position 5-6.
Pipeline, seven time continental champions dropped out of the main race on Thursday after suffering a heavy defeat to Prisons in a five set thriller and they will have to wait for yet another year for the trophy they last lifted in 2005.
But they put all that disappointment behind in the subsequent match with a 3-0 victory, a win against another Tunisian side, Sfaxien whom they beat by straights sets (25-11, 25-21, 25-21) in the 5-8 placement playoffs matches- a perfect gift for Captain Triza Atuka who celebrated her 24th birthday.
Carthage will now meet the winner between Ahly and Shams.
Meanwhile, Kenya has qualified two teams to this year’s African Beach Volleyball Cup of Nations after finishing first and third in the men’s and Women’s categories during the zonal Qualifiers held in Uganda Friday.
Men’s pair of Ibrahim Oduor of Kenya Prisons and his Nairobi Water’s James Mwaniki booked the ticket to the continental championship set to be held in Maputo, Mozambique from May 10-16,2017 after finishing top.
Kenya’s women’s team consisted of Pipeline’s duo of Jecinta Mweni and Gaudencia.
-By Elvince Joshua-