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National junior volleyball side make first steps to emulate stars

National women’s U-20 volleyball head coach Paul Gitau is confident that the side will clinch gold in this year’s Women U-20 African Nations volleyball championship set for August 26 to September 2 at the Kasarani Indoor Arena.

Half of Gitau’s charges have been in residential training at Kasarani for the last two weeks while the remaining players who were in Rwanda for the just concluded East Africa School games competitions joined the squad yesterday morning.

“I am happy that all the players are now available and the training is going on well. We had a friendly with the senior team to gauge their reaction and we are not badly off. Those who joined yesterday are good players and all they need is rest and some light training to gel well with the rest. With two days to the championship, we are rearing to go,” said coach Gitau.

Five players from reigning East Africa Secondary School volleyball champions Kwanthanze joined the rest in camp yesterday. Betty Sifuna, Sharon Sandui, Lydia Emoko, Stacy Otieno and Emmaculate Misoki had arrived in the country on Tuesday night.

A sixth player from the school Mirriam Chelimo is expected to join the rest this morning as she was given permission to head home for a day after the Rwanda trip.

The team on Friday and Saturday to finalise preparations before the championship throws off on Sunday. According to the African Volleyball Confederation (CAVB), defending champions Egypt, DR Congo, Rwanda, Mauritius, Cameroon, Nigeria and Uganda have confirmed their participation. Two more nations, Tanzania and Guinea, which had expressed interest in the biannual tourney, are yet to confirm their participation.

“The two days left are enough for these players to get the technical bits right. This is a do-or-die situation but we are not complaining. While doing the selection we had factored in the time we would have with them after the Rwanda games, so I selected the best players.

They need minimal training to form a formidable side,” said Gitau. Gitau is happy that Kwanthanze clinched the schools title as that win has given them the morale to face any team in the all-important championship which will double as a qualifier for the U20 World Championship set for September next year.

“I handpicked these players and I know what they are capable of. I was only worried that if Kwanthanze lost in Rwanda the players would be heartbroken and that could affect their performance here, but I am happy they won. They are in high spirits and they are adjusting very quickly so I am not worried about exhaustion,” added Gitau.

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