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Malkia target second round in World Champs

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Malkia Strikers players hurdle together after a training session at the Kasarani Indoor Gymnasium on August 14, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 15 – National women’s volleyball team head coach Japheth Munala says the squad’s target heading into next month’s FIVB World Championships in Japan will be to get to the second round, at least.

Munala says the experience picked up by the team over time, especially the brilliant performance at the FIVB World Grand Prix three years back where they emerged champions of Group Three gives them confidence that they can go on and register good results.

“I think we are capable of doing well in Japan and in the least, we should get to the second round. From there we can work our way up. If you look at how we played in the Group Three of the Grand Prix against big teams, that alone shows that we have the ability,” Munala said.

In the Grand Prix, Kenya beat the likes of Mexico, Australia and Peru in the final to clinch the title.

At the World Championships, they will be in Pool D against Serbia, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Kazakhstan. The top four teams from the pool which plays its matches in the Japanese city of Hamamatsu will qualify for the second round.

Skipper Mercy Moim also promised the girls will do their best in Japan.

“We are ready for the challenge. Every player who has been named in the final team is determined to go and do the country proud. We have trained well and the focus is on performing better than all previous World Championships,” Moim noted.

Malkia Strikers Head Coach Japheth Munala. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

The Malkia Strikers make a return to the World Championship after missing the last showpiece in Italy where Africa was represented by Cameroon and Tunisia. They start their campaign on September 28 against Kazakhstan.

The last appearance by Malkia at the World Championships was in 2010 where they left without winning a single set nor a single match. They lost by straight sets to Brazil, Puerto Rico, Netherlands, Italy and Czech Republic.

The team has been in camp since June in preparation for the World Championships and Munala is confident they have done enough to be ready, despite only missing build up matches to test their readiness.

“I feel that we are ready and the remaining two weeks will be for sharpening and polishing a few areas like reception and blocking. The girls have really done well and we haven’t had problems with preparations like the previous times,” the tactician added.

Munala has already named his squad of 14 for the Championships almost a month before they travel and he has put in a blend of youth and experience which he says will be vital to challenge for a second round spot.

Malkia Strikers celebrating at a past Championship at the Kasarani Arena Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

He has named two national team debutants in the squad, Kenya Prisons duo of Loreen Chebet and Sharon Chepchumba. The two are fresh from High School, having cleared form four last year at Kwanthanze High School.

“This is a good squad and everyone who is there is there by merit. The young girls have worked so hard and I don’t have a doubt they will do well in the first team,” the tactician said.

Chepchumba and Chebet are both looking forward to their maiden travel with the national team and are confident they can squeeze into the starting team.

“For me, yes it’s a good thing to be named, but the final joy will be when I am taking that plane to Japan. I want to work hard enough not to let down the coaches because they have trusted in me to give me the chance,” the middle blocker said.

Meanwhile, the Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) has disclosed they will travel early to Japan and hold a 10-day training camp for final preparations before the championship begins.

‘We have made arrangements with our friends in Japan and that will be a good thing to acclimatize and play a few friendly matches. This time we have had very smooth preparations because we managed to get National Oil on board as sponsors so everything is okay. If they don’t perform, then that is up to them and the coach,” KVF boss Waithaka Kioni said.

The Malkia Strikers squad travelling to Japan for the 2018 FIVB World Championships pose for a group photo at the Kasarani Indoor Gymnasium. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Malkia Strikers squad to Japan:

Setters: Jane Wacu, Janet Wanja.

Middle blockers: Edith Wisa, Trizah Atuka, Lorine Chebet, Christine Siwa

Left attackers: Mercy Moim, Noel Murambi, Sharon Chepchumba, Leonida Kasaya

Right attackers: Violet Makuto, Emmaculate Chemtai,

Liberos: Elizabeth Wanyama, Aggripina Kundu.

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