Belligerent “Malkia Strikers” of Kenya Friday night booked a ticket to 2018 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championships by beating rivals Egypt 3-0 (25-23, 25-22, 25-19) in the semi-finals of the women’s Volleyball Africa Nations Championship at the Palais des Sports Indoor Arena in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
This continental competition was doubling up as qualifiers for the Women’s World Championship scheduled for June next year in Japan, where two slots have been reserved for Africa.
Hosts Cameroon were scheduled to face off with West African giants Senegal in the second semi-final later Friday night to determine who Kenya will face in the final slated for 10pm EAT Saturday evening at the same venue.
Kenya coach Japheth Munala was full of joy after the match, and he viewed the result as sweet revenge against the Egyptians who famously denied Kenya a chance to proceed to the Rio Olympic Games in the Africa qualifiers staged in Cameroon last year.
“Getting here has not been very easy and first of all I thank God for enabling us. For me, this has been the most difficult game of the competition. Egypt were very strong, as usual, and it required mental strength from the girls in order to overcome them,” said Munala.
“You can see how close the scores were. Twice we found ourselves tied with them at 20-20 which made the last few minutes of the game even more daunting. We now have the free pass to the World Championships, and that is a good thing, but I am hoping that we still manage a good result tomorrow in the final,” Munala said.
To get to the semis, the African queens had beaten Nigeria 3-0 (25-16, 25-8, 25-10), Democratic Republic of Congo 3-0 (25-17, 25-15,25-12) and Senegal 3-0 (25-21, 28-26, 25-15) in their first two matches, before wrapping up the group stage on a high note with a 3-0 (25-17, 25-21, 25-16) win over Tunisia on Tuesday.
This impressive result saw Kenya finish on top of Pool ‘B’, and remain the only team that has not dropped a single set in the tournament.
It was a close contest from start to finish, with Egypt pulling all stops to get themselves ahead and grab the ticket to the global games.
Munala, who is chasing his first continental title with the national team, started with a reliable lineup that had veteran Jane Wacu as pivot in the setting position, but middle blocker Edith Wisa was evidently the destroyer-in-chief especially in the second and third sets where she overwhelmed Egypt with her quick spikes and strong blocks.