Kenya's Sharon Chepchumba spikes the ball against Sāo Caetino players during their friendly match on July 27 2022 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. [Courtesy]

The national women’s volleyball team, Malkia Strikers, lost their seventh match in Brazil as they intensified their training in preparation for next month’s World Championships to be jointly hosted by Netherlands and Poland.

The global showpiece is scheduled for September 23 to October 15.

The Kenyan girls, under the tutelage of Paul Bitok, are expected back on September 5 before flying out to Serbia for more build up matches on September 12-19 and later fly to Poland where they will be based.

In yesterday’s match in Sao Paulo, Malkia Strikers once again failed to impress as they lost by straight sets of 25-20, 25-21 and 25-16 to Esporte Clube Pinheiros, a Brazilian Superliga Serie A side.

Malkia started the match strongly before the hosts won the first set with a five-point gap. Kenya improved in the second set to lose by four points difference. However, in the third set, Esporte played well to overpower the Kenyans with a nine-point gap.

Previously, coach Bitok who is assisted by Japheth Munala had raised concern on the team’s services and blocks, which he said they have been working to improve since their arrival in Brazil in June.

“We need to work on receptions and services. We have been having problems with our both receptions and services,” said Bitok in an earlier interview, adding that there is a lot of improvement in blocks and attacks. Out of the eight friendly matches, Malkia Strikers have only won once but Bitok believes tremendous improvement has been achieved in Brazil.

Captain Mercy Moim, Belinda Barasa, Veronica Adhiambo, Emmaculate Nekesa, Sharon Chepchumba, Edith Wisa and Agrippina Kundu are some of the players who have so far been impressive in the high performance training camp.

Meanwhile, just like Kenya Volleyball Federation whose Malkia Strikers have been seconded Luizomar de Moura as the coach, the Swedish Volleyball Association’s mission to develop the Sweden women’s national volleyball team into an international competitor has recently been boosted by support from the FIVB’s Volleyball Empowerment programme.

The FIVB’s support has included three months of coach support in 2021 and 2022, in addition to a national team coaches development project.

The support has enabled the Swedish Volleyball Association to hire head coach Lauri Hakala of Finland to lead the women’s national team. During his time in Sweden, Hakala has also been implementing a national team programme that will lay the foundations for sustainable and long-term success on the international stage.

“The FIVB continues to raise the standard of volleyball worldwide, helping teams reach their full potential,” said FIVB president Dr Ary S. Graça F°.