IN GULU, UGANDA
Kwanthanze Girls on Saturday reclaimed the volleyball title after downing Rwanda’s St Aloys in the final on the last day of competition at the Brookside East Africa Secondary School Games here in Gulu.
The Kenyans girls recovered from losing the opening set 23-25 to win the next three sets 25-11, 25-19 and 25-14 to claim their third regional title.
Kwanthanze first won the regional title in 2013 in Lira, Uganda before successfully defending it in 2014 in Dar es Salaam. In 2015, they relinquished their title in Huye, Rwanda after losing to G.S. Indagaburezi. Kwanthanze would miss out on last year’s showpiece after losing to Soweto Academy in the Nairobi Region finals.
The boys’ title went to Rwanda after Rusumo Boys recorded a straight sets win of 35-33, 25-19 and 25-21 against homeside Luyanzi in the final at St Joseph’s Layibi College. Chetpil and Malakal Boys won the respective play-off matches.
Kwanthanze, back in the regional scene after a one-year absence, marked their return in impressive fashion with a strong showing against the Rwandans.
Kwanthanze coach Justine Kigwari could not hide his excitement at the result attributing the success to team spirit and a winning mentality.
“We survived a scare in the first set and returned stronger, improved on out service and blocking and that proved to be the difference in the end,” Kigwari told Nation Sport.
“The pain of missing out on last year’s competition made us go back to the drawing board and we were able to improve our game,” the tactician added.
The win completed a remarkable double for the Machakos County School, after they won the national title last month in Nyeri.
Kwanthanze, had yet to drop a set prior to the final. Captain Gladys Ekaru led from the front with her impressive blocks.
The match was a battle of coaches with Kenyan-born Paul Bitok in the St Aloys technical bench and David Lung’aho on the other side.
Kwanthanze’s error serving and lethargic blocking saw the Rwandese take the opening set after Kwanthanze threw away a 18-14 lead to lose 23-25.
However, Kwanthanze returned stronger with improved blocks and serving raising their game to take the set and level the match.
Kwanthanze then took the next two sets comfortably to mark a good return to this year’s competition as the Rwandese lacked failed to respond in style.
Setter Sharon Chepchumba of Kwanthanze was voted as the competition’s Most Valuable player.
Bitok conceded defeat praising Kwanthanze for their tenacity.
“They are an experienced side and we were outclassed in all departments,” he said.
Cheptil marked their return to the nationals with a decent third place finish after they beat G.S. Indagaburezi in straight sets of 25-22, 25-11, 25-19.
Cheptil were found guilty of impersonation.