NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 14- Malkia Strikers’ hopes of a fourth consecutive African title went up in smoke after losing by straight sets to hosts Cameroon in the final of the CAVB Women Volleyball Championship at the Yaoundé on Saturday.
The Kenyan ladies had won the previous three editions of the biennial championship and were searching for a record 10th title, but the efforts hit a dead end against a strong Cameroon side pushed on by their home fans.
The African Queens seemed to force the game to a five-set game with a spirited third set after going down 2-0, pushing the scores from 24-19 to tie 25-25, but Cameroon just but managed to knick in a 29-27 win. They had won the first two in scores of 25-22 and 25-19.
The opening set was competitive with the two teams going at each others’ neck from the first set. However, Cameroon managed to have an edge over the Kenyans going into the first technical time out with an 8-6 edge.
After the short break, the Kenyan girls came with venom and managed to pull a three point gap going 11-8 up before the Cameroonians called for a timeout.
They seemed to have sipped some energy sapping words from the pep-talk and they came back correcting their mistakes before taking a slim 16-15 lead for the second technical time-out.
Again, the Japheth Munala’s team emerged back spirited to take the first set, but quickly found themselves losing foot, Cameroon going 20-16 up.
Kenya however, dug in with Violet Makuto’s two ferocious left handed spikes taking them 21-21 ups.
But the deafening cheers at the Complex re-jigged Cameroon’s energy before going on to win 25-22.
The Cameroonians kept the same tempo in the second set, moving to a 5-1 early lead. Munala made a tactical change to bring on middle blocker Triza Atuka as Kenya had lost way too many points on blocks and reception.
The Kenya Pipeline deputy skippers’ arrival breathed some life into the Kenyan team as they managed to give a fight, but Cameroon headed to the first technical time out with an 8-5 lead. From then on, there wasn’t looking back as they went on to clinch the set 25-19.
Cameroon seemed to be steam rolling the Kenyans in the third set after going toe to toe in the first and second technical time out. They progressed to match point form with a five point buffer, but a determined Malkia pushed to close the gap.
But there was no stopping the girls as they held their nerves to win 29-27.