National women’s under 23 volleyball team have been drawn in tricky Pool ‘B’ ahead of the World Championship set for September 10 to 17 in Ljubljana and Maribor, Slovenia respectively.
The team, under the stewardship of former International player Catherine Mabwi, will come up against champions Brazil, runners up Turkey, Japan, Bulgaria and Cuba in the week-long event that was last held in 2015 in Turkey.
Interestingly, all the Kenyan opponents in the biennial event, are ranked above them in the FIVB Under-23 world rankings released in January, 2017.
Kenya are placed position 13 with 26 points after failing to participate in the 2015 World Championship, where their opponents were present
Brazil are in pole position with 130 points, followed by Turkey with 120 while Japan are fifth with 88 points. Bulgaria are placed seventh and Cuba 12th with 62 and 40 points respectively.
Pool ‘A’ have bronze medalists Dominican Republic, Egypt who won against Kenya during the qualifiers last year in Nairobi, China, Argentina, Thailand and hosts Slovenia. The national team resumed training yesterday at the Safaricom Indoor Arena, Kasarani having shelved the training sessions to pave way for the recently concluded senior 2018 FIVB World Championship qualifier in Nairobi and the election period respectively.
Mabwi, who is being assisted by the Kenya Prisons women’s team assistant coach Josp Barasa and Kenya Commercial Bank coach Vernon Kainga, said time is not on their side but remained optimistic it will be a full house in due course.
“Some of the players traveled up-country to vote since it is their constitutional right but I am glad others are here already and ready to start training ahead of the championship,” said Mabwi.
She added: “We have less than a month and we want to work on all the departments to ensure they are working well.”
The first women’s U-23 World Championship took place in 2013 in Mexico. This edition has attracted 12 teams. Brazil won the 2015 edition by beating hosts Turkey in the final while the Dominican Republic held off Japan to secure bronze.