By Oscar Pilipili
Kenya Pipeline minced no words on their intent thumping Manga Sports of Gabon in 3-0 straight sets of 25-2, 25-14 and 25-4 on the first day of the women African Clubs Championships at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.
Pipeline coach Japheth Munala approached the match with seriousness parading experienced players in the first set. Munala opted to start with veteran setter Rhodah Lyali, libero Mildred Odwako, attackers Lucy Chege, Asha Makuto and Ruth Jepng’etich.
The Kenyan champions wasted no time as the hard-hitting players claimed the first set at 25-2, with Manga’s points both arising from unforced errors by Pipeline players.
Munala made changes in the second set bringing in Janet Wanja and Esther Wangeci in place of Lyali and Chege. Pipeline again conceded more than 10 points through unforced errors, which saw Manga score improve, though they lost the set at 25-15. Pipeline wrapped up the match winning the third set with yet another classic display restricting their opponents to just four points to have a 25-4 scoreline.
High-spirited Stef Auto team of Madagascar shocked Water Sport of Ethiopia in 3-0 straight sets (25-20, 25-21, 25-18) in a Pool ‘C’ match at the same venue. Stef showed early signs of winning the match when they raced to 8-3 and 16-7 at the two technical time outs.
The Madagascar team then maintained the lead to win 25-20 and take 1-0 set advantage. Water Sport, who finished fourth overall last year, showed slight recovery in the second set with good net play from Captain Addis Yodit and Dessie Rahel but Stef rallied to lead 16-14 at the second technical time out. Stef to run away with the set at 25-21. They won the third set 25-18.
Meanwhile, defending champions Kenya Prisons landed in Pool B following drawing of lots held on Wednesday. Prisons, who have won the Championships on three occasions (2008, 2010 and 2011), play their preliminary matches in venue ‘B’ at African Nazarene University against Jeshi Stars (Tanzania), FAP (Cameroon), Varieties (Gabon) and Canon d Njil (Congo). Prisons coach David Lung’aho cautioned against complacence and said it will be a competitive event. “There is no easy team here because those present have come as champions from their countries,” he said.
Kenya Pipeline are drawn in Pool ‘A’ together with Manga Sports (Congo), Chlef (Algeria) and Nkumba University (Uganda). The third local team, Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) landed in Pool ‘C’ that also features Stella (Ivory Coast), Rwanda Avenue Authority (Rwanda), Water Sports (Ethiopia) and Stef Auto (Madagascar).
The five-team Pool ‘D’ has Daring Club Motema Pembe, DGSP of Congo, Blue Angels (Nigeria) and Mafolofolo (Botswana).