CAIRO, Egypt, Jul 13 – Malkia Strikers progressed to the final of the African Women Volleyball Championship in emphatic fashion, hitting Senegal by straight sets in Cairo on Saturday night.
Malkia who relinquished the African crown in 2017 to Cameroon won the tie easily in sets of 25-13, 25-13, 25-20 and will now face the West Africans in the final on Sunday night after the Lionesses also glided through hosts Egypt in straight sets.
This will be a repeat of the 2017 final which Cameroon won 3-1, and a repeat of their last group match at this tournament where Malkia raced from two sets down to stun the Cameroonians 3-2.
The team is confident they can reclaim the title and have vowed not to do the same mistakes they did in 2017.
“We have watched them play, we have played against them and we know what to expect from them. We know it will be tougher than when we faced them in the group but definitely, they should not also expect us to be easy,” skipper Mercy Moim said.
-Nothing to lose-
Her sentiments were shared by middle blocker Trizah Atuka who played a pivotal role in the semi-final win over Senegal.
“We don’t have anything to lose. They are the defending champions and pressure is on them. For us, we are going in there to play our game, enjoy ourselves and give the best for our country. We have learnt from our mistakes,” Atuka stated.
Against Senegal, Kenya had an easy outing, with head coach Shaileen Ramdoo resorting to is strongest starting team. The Kenyans raced to a 5-0 lead before Senegal were prompted into an early time out.
But that did not change things as the girls raced to an 8-2 lead at the first technical time out and extended to 16-8 at the second TTO thanks to some heavy service by skipper Moim and Noelle Murambi.
With Kenya steam rolling away, ramdoo had the comfort of resting her vice captain Atuka for rookie Ekaru before Malkia stretched the set to 24-8. However, a spirited Senegal tapped in five unanswered points, but Malkia got that one to end the set at 25-13.
Having been buoyed by the five unanswered points they managed in the first set, Senegal were back stronger, taking advantage of Kenya’s soft underbelly in reception. However, Kenya kept the Senegalese at arms length and led 8-6 and 16-9 and the first and second TTOs.
They kept on the tempo and ensured the set was covered as well.
A threat of a comeback showed its head in the third set where the Senegalese tied the game at 7-7, but Malkia went to the first TTO 8-7 up. Like a tick on a cow’s skin, Senegal kept to Kenya’s neck and came back to tie at 11-11 before Kenya slightly pulled away to 16-14 at the second TTO.
But, Ramdoo tweaked his side with some freshness, Sharon Chepchumba coming in for Edith Wisah and the team then regained their balance to stretch away to 24-17. Senegal served into the net to hand Malkia the match winning point.