National women’s volleyball team, Malkia Strikers make a return to the world stage as the FIVB World Championship throws off Saturday where they commence their title campaign with a match against Kazakhstan in Hamamatsu Arena, Hamamatsu City, Japan
Malkia Strikers head to the match as the underdogs since Kazakhstan are placed 21st in the 2017 FIVB rankings while the home girls are 33rd.
Since their first appearance in 2006, Kazakhstan has continuously competed at the championships, this being their fourth appearance. Their best placing at the global stage is 15th achieved in 2014.
Malkia is making a return to the competition having missed the last showpiece held in 2014 in Italy, where Cameroon and Tunisia represented Africa.
Kenya last featured in the 16th edition of the World Championship held in Japan in 2010 where the team finished tied last after losing all five pool matches. They lost by straight sets to Brazil, Puerto Rico, Netherlands, Italy and the Czech Republic
Despite the record, Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) technical director David Lung’aho said they are targeting two wins that will see them proceed to the second round with a win in the opener set to greatly influence subsequent performance.
“We had a successful eight-day training schedule here in Japan and have arrived in Hamamatsu where we play our group matches on time. The friendly matches we played have helped improve on our weak areas and we are psyched and ready for action. Our opening match is very important for us and we will give it our all,” said centre player Triza Atuka.
Coach Japheth Munala is likely to start captain Mercy Moim and Noel Murambi as the left attackers, Triza Atuka and Edith Wisa at the centre position and Violet Makuto in the right position. Aggripina Kundu is expected to start as the libero while Jane Wacu starting as the setter.
Munala has other key players at his disposal and the starting line-up could change depending on the training the team has had in Japan. Before their departure, Munala had praised the commitment and efforts of players who were making their debut at the world stage including Lorine Chebet, Sharon Chepchumba, Christine Siwa, Leonida Kasaya and Emmaculate Chemtai.
“These players are eager to show that they earned the call-ups and they have confidence which gives me the assurance that they will deliver when called upon,” said Munala.
The second match will be against Serbia, who finished seventh in 2014, on Sunday. Munala’s charges have a date with Puerto Rico on October 1, Brazil two days later and will close the group stage matches against the Dominican Republic on October 4.