NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 1- Five-time African women volleyball club champions Kenya Prisons have vowed to bring the glory days back and reclaim the African title when they line up at this year’s championship to be held in Egypt from March 6-15.
Prisons last won the title in 2013 when it was held in Madagascar, but have struggled to replicate the form that saw them win four titles in a row.
Team Captain Evelyn Makuto says the team has the hunger to win the trophy again and has tipped her teammates to show that in the court when the tournament serves off in the North African city of Cairo.
“Everyone wants this cup and we are hungry for it. We have gone four years without it but now, we are going for it. Our preparations this year have been better than the previous years and we promise to reclaim that trophy,” the experienced left attacker told Capital Sport.
Prisons came close last year only losing out gas by losing in the semi-finals, but went on to win bronze in the championship held in Tunisia. In 2014 they won silver after losing to Algeria’s GSP Alger by straight sets in the final.
Head coach David Lung’aho has attributed their below par performances over the last four years to squad disruption with some of his key players travelling in and out of Europe for professional stints but this year, he says he has the best squad to do duty.
The only absentees from his squad will be setter Jane Wacu who is in Seychelles while young middle blocker Ann Lowem is still recovering from an ankle injury picked up while playing for the national Under-23 team last year.
“The build up has been impressive and we are ready. We have put up one of the best team over the last four years and the team spirit is very high. The players are focused, I believe in them and I can see us getting the trophy back,” the tactician said after seeing the side through a training session on Thursday.
Lung’aho has named a strong team to Cairo with three debutants included while the experienced Brackcedes Agala has been dropped.
Kwanthanze High School graduates Lorene Chebet and Sharon Chepchumba have been included in the team, joining setter Herma Jepyegon in a very seasoned Prisons team.
“Herma is coming in as a setter to replace Wacu and we are very confident in her abilities. Chebet and Chepchumba have also worked very hard in training and proved to be equal to the task. Chebet is actually in my first six and has proved to have the quality that deserves to play,” the coach noted.
He added; “She has given the seasoned players like Edith Wisa a run for their money and they should watch out because she is developing really fast.”
Lung’aho also notes that the team will not be affected despite the absence of Wacu, saying the matter is now behind their backs and will focus on what they have, adding they have full confidence in her replacement.
Captain Makuto also added they will be playing to win the title for Wacu who has served the team for close to two decades.
A record number of 21 teams including holders Carthage of Tunisia have confirmed participating in the nine-day tournament and Lung’aho says this will widen the pool of competition for them.
“We need to fight from day one. We expect very tough competition from our own rivals Kenya Pipeline, the two Egyptian teams, the defending champions and not forgetting teams from Cameroon. It will be tough,” the tactician said.
Skipper Makuto added on to say they will not underrate anyone but will instead give 100 percent in every match they play.
“We are ready for anyone and we will give our best without looking at who we are playing. Our target is on the trophy and that is what we will work on,” Makuto added.
Kenya Prisons team
Joy Lusenaka, Herma Jepyegon, Loise Jepkosgei, Emmaculate Chemtai, Edith Wisa, Shyrine Jepkemboi, Diana Khisa, Lorine Chebet, Mercy Moim, Everlyne Makuto, Sharon Chepchumba, Yvonne Wavinya, Elizabeth Wanyama, Judith Tarus.