Kenya had a perfect start in the Women’s U20 African Nations Volleyball Championship which threw off yesterday at Kasarani Sports Complex as they won their opening match by three straight sets against Tanzania.
The junior Malkia Strikers had entrusted Belinda Nanjala, Betty Sifuna, Pamela Owino, Susan Megut, Stacy Otieno and captain Mercy Likhayo with the starting berth and the teenegers did not dissapoint.
Paul Gitau-coached side started the match slow, going toe to toe with Tanzania in the first minutes with poor service costing the home girls.
The first technical timeout was called with Kenya on a slight 8-6 lead and it worked magic as Gitau’s charges came back charged and extended their lead to 13-8 forcing the Tanzanians to their first timeout.
The home girls were not relenting, taking the score to 16-9 by the second technical time and went on to win the first set 25-15.
The second set was tightly contested with the hard fighting Tanzanias twice threatening to take the lead. Captain Jovin Jonia was instrumental in her side’s performance as despite fighting a losing battle she constantly urged the team to keep going.
Tanzania lost the second set in the dying minutes after a lapse in concentration which saw them give away easy points due to poor reception.
Gitau made three substitutions in the final set bringing in main setter Emmaculate Misiko, Mirriam Ngeywo and Lydia Emokol for Megut, Nanjala and Otieno to easily win the set 25-11.
“I knew Tanzania is a weak side so i did not field my main players. It might look like we struggled against an easy side but it is all a part of my plan as our competitors are studying our every move. I am confident the girls will rectify the few mistakes they committed in this match,” said Gitau. The team will take on Nigeria on Wednesday in their second match.
On his part, Tanzania coach Alfred Selengiya says his charges are participating in their first ever championship and they are out to learn as they look to build a formidable side.
“My players are new to this and i am impressed with their performance. We are here to gain the experince. We also intend to work with more established countries to help build a competitve team in a few years,” the coach said.
Meawhile, the first match of the day between DR Congo and Mauritius ended 3-0 (25-23, 25-18, 25-23) in favour of the the former.
Pool A: Kenya- Tanzania- Nigeria- Cameroon
Pool B: Egypt- Uganda- Mauritius- Congo DR- Rwanda