CAIRO, Egypt, Jul 10 – National women’s volleyball team Malkia Strikers began their African Women’s Volleyball Cup of Nations in emphatic fashion, hitting a stubborn Algeria by straight sets of 25-19, 25-21 and 25-21 in Giza on Tuesday evening.
Though not to their perfect best, Malkia just but managed to hold off the North Africans to kick start their campaign to claim back the title they lost to Cameroon in 2017.
“The first game is always tough sometimes it looks nervous, but well, Algeria did not cause is problems, we caused ourselves problems. But that is something I have to make sure doesn’t happen again. It was not impressive because how we played was not how we train,” Kenya’s Italian coach Shaileen Ramdoo told Capital Sports after the match.
“We really have to do what we do in training. The tempo, the movement and aggression in defense was not there today. We were a bit sluggish and it was not our usual tempo,” the tactician added.
While he was clearly unimpressed with the performance, skipper Mercy Moim says the team is delighted to have scratched off the cobwebs with a win on day one.
“We are really thankful for the win. It was a bit tough because it is the first game and also we were not quite used to the heat. But we tried and won because as a team our target is to always win the first game,” Moim stated.
Malkia didn’t have much of a problem in the first set, though the start was a bit shaky. They led 8-7 at the first technical time out and 16-12 at the second before seeing out a 25-19 score.
The second set started more or less like the first with kenya taking an 8-5 lead at the first TTO. Ramdoo switched up his side, bringing in Edith Wisa for Triza Atuka but was forced to bring the experienced middle blocker back when Algeria squeezed the scores to tie at 12-12.
The ship steadied with Kenya going to the second TTO 16-13 up and stretching to 18-13 before the Algerians called for a time out. They came with vigor and pushed the score to 22-20 before Malkia regained their footing to take a two-set lead with a 25-21 score.
In the third set, Ramdoo decided to switch up the team, pulling out Jane Wacu for Janet Wanja at setter while the experienced Brackcedes Agala also came in alongside Wisa .
The first TTO was called at 8-5 in favor of Kenya, but the changes to the team seemed to have shaken the balance. But still, Malkia held on for a 16-10 lead at the second TTO.
With victory in sight, Ramdoo chose to give everyone a run out, Emmaculate Chemtai, Sharon Chepchumba and rookie blocker Gladys Ekiru all coming on. But, the Algerians took advantage of the new pairings to try and give a fight, squeezing the scores to 22-20.
Ramdoo rung the ball for a time out and Kenya returned in better shape and Chemutai won the game with a little dink beyond the Algerian blockers for a 25-21 score.
Kenya will play Botswana in their second match on Wednesday evening and a win will see them set one foot in the semi-finals.
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