Eastern Kenya school to defend title deplete of stars who lifted national mantle last year

Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association (KSSSA) girls’ volleyball champions Kwanthanze Girls face a Herculean task of retaining the title they won last year as they head to the Term Two games, which run from July 23-28 at Eldoret’s Hill School, with the youngest squad the side has fielded in the recent past.

Head coach Justin Kigwari lost five of his starting six players after they cleared school, with Gladys Ekaru the only one remaining in the current team, and with a relatively weak second team, the tactician has had to build a new squad from scratch. His winning team last year comprised captain Sharon Chepchumba who has since joined Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) league side Kenya Prisons, Jane Mumbua now at CID, Loreen Chebet a Prisons player too, Milcah Kimwele who was recruited by a Rwandese club and Winnie Odhiambo who has joined Kenya Pipeline.

“I have had to train form ones and twos from scratch as I was not confident with my remaining players.

It has taken a lot of work and months of training to get where we are and despite qualifying for the nationals, after beating Kitui’s Kyatune 3-0, I cannot say we will have the strongest squad in the national meet,” said Kigwari. They had a good campaign during last year’s games held in Nyeri as they finished top of their pool with three straight wins, won the semis 3-0 against Nairobi’s Soweto to book a finals against Cheptil winning by three straight sets to clinch the title.

“After missing out on the trophy for two consecutive years, last year we knew we had what it takes to win it and my players did not disappoint.

However, this edition will be different since I have a young squad and I can only push them so far, they have to grow gradually.

However, I am not ruling out a podium finish since our reputation could work in our favour,” the coach said.

The side will however have to go past the group stage hurdle here they have been pitted against national finalists Cheptil, Nyakach and Tetu.

Meanwhile in boys under 19s football, Kakamega School have a snag of their own to deal with in their quest to end their three- year trophy drought and will equally rely on reputation and experience gained while playing in the National Super League (NSL).

‘Green Commandos’ as they are fondly known have been placed in a group of death where they face four time champions St Antony, last year’s semi-finalist Kathungi boys and newbies Ringa from Nyanza. With only the top two proceeding to the next stage, coach Brendan Mwinamo has his work cut out in the Eldoret meet.

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