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Malkia fall to Serbia in World Champs tie

Kenya’s Mercy Moim spikes against Serbian blockers during their FIVB World Championship tie in Hamamatsu, Japan on September 30, 2018

HAMAMATSU, Japan, September 30, 2018 – While a typhoon raged outside, Serbia displayed calm inside Hamamatsu Arena as they beat Kenya 3-0 (25-16, 25-9, 25-8) in Pool D at the FIVB Women’s World Championship on Sunday.

Kenya’s Malkia Strikers had started the campaign on a positive note on Saturday with a straight sets win over Kazakhstan, their first ever victory at the World Championships.

However, against a much experienced Serbia, they could not replicate the same results, but showed hunger and grit to win. Jovana Stevanovic sparked Serbia in the victory with nine points while Brankica Mihajlovic had eight and Stefana Veljkovic seven.

Mercy Moim who was in red hot form against Kazakhstan in Saturday with 28 points continued her streak top-scoring for Kenya with seven points in the loss.

Kenya’s Malkia Strikers celebrate after picking a point during their FIVB World Championship tie in Hamamatsu, Japan on September 30, 2018

Serbia is one of the top teams in the world, and with Kenya coming off a big win, it was going to be difficult for them to show the same energy as a night earlier.

The match did not have many long rallies, with many points over in a flash. Kenya was unable to contend with Serbia’s block.

The first set featured poor serving by both teams. Time and again serves flew long or straight into the net. Serbia took charge and pulled ahead 16-10 at the second TTO on a spike by Milena Rasic and rolled to grab the set 25-16. The higher-ranked Serbs finally got into a rhythm and came together.

Kenya’s Malkia Strikers line up before their FIVB World Championship tie in Hamamatsu, Japan on September 30, 2018

Serbia again set the pace in the second set, moving out to an 8-4 lead at the first TTO following a service ace by Tijana Malesevic. Serbia’s wing spikers blasted away at the Kenya defense, which was unable to repel the constant attacks.

Serbia boosted their advantage to 16-6 at the second TTO while running off six consecutive points. Kenya was also troubled by unforced errors as Serbia built their lead and ultimately took the set 25-9.

The outcome became academic early in the final set when Serbia rapidly established a 9-1 lead. One point in the set crystallized the match. Serbia’s Veljkovic went up for a spike with her right hand but mistimed her jump.

On the way down she hit the ball with her left hand and it landed in a open space in the Kenya defense for a point. Serbia cruised the rest of the way to take the set and the match 25-8.

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