Kenya face Cuba in Pool B tie

By Rodgers Eshitemi: Thursday, September 14th 2017 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Volleyball and Handball
Kenya's Veronica Kilabat in action against Turkey at the World Under-23 Championships in in Slovenia on September 12, 2017. [FIVB]

Kenya Under 23 women’s national team will be hoping to end their losing streak when they take on Cuba in today’s (3pm) dead-rubber Pool B match at the ongoing FIVB Women’s U23 World Championship, in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

This will be an important match for both teams as each side will be seeking their first win of the tournament.

Kenya lost all its first three games by straight sets to champions Brazil, Bulgaria and Turkey, while the Cubans were beaten 4-0 by Brazil and Japan before throwing a three set lead to lose 4-3 to Bulgaria on Tuesday.

However, unlike winless and pointless Kenya, Cuba are proud to have at least grabbed a point after winning three sets against Bulgaria (10-15, 12-15, 11-15, 15-10, 15-10, 15-11, 15-6).

But despite their poor start, the Catherine Mabwi-coached side is still confident of registering positive results and improve on their 2013 performance in Mexico where they left the tournament winless and without a point.

Mabwi is likely to retain her preferred starting six with Beldine Akinyi being the only change in the team. Akinyi replaced Anne Lowem in Monday’s game against Bulgaria after the Prisons middle-blocker sprained her knee.

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Having been so far affected by poor reception, blocks and services, the former Kenyan international expects yesterday’s short break to help them improve their performance.

“My team was okay. Fighting spirit was a bit better than the last match yesterday. The players were able to score quite a number of good points and you could see good plays from them.

“What has cost us this match is that we lost quite a lot of our serves. We lost so many serves. We were able to play well in attacking,” said Mabwi after Tuesday’s defeat to Turkey.

Captain Shyrine Jepkemboi also believes the team is improving game by game.

“These are our first international games. In the third set we saw that we can fight Turkey. We played better than yesterday, but we made too many mistakes with our serves and some in reception,” said Jepkemboi.

Kenya wraps up their preliminary round tomorrow with a clash against Japan.

Meanwhile, 12 teams have confirmed their participation in next month's (October 7-14) Women's African Nations Championship in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

The tournament will also serve as a 2018 World Championship qualifiers to be held in Japan.