Kenya begins volleyball title defence bid on high note at Africa show
Paul Bitok made a winning return to Kenya’s women national volleyball team coaching role as Malkia Strikers overcame Cameroon 3-1 (25-22, 25-21,16-25, 25-17) in their opening Group B match of the African Games, in Rabat, Morocco, yesterday.
It was sweet revenge for the defending champions after losing 3-2 (17-25, 27-25,23-25,25-23,13-15) to their found l rivals in last month’s African Nations Championship final in Cairo, Egypt.
Bitok was named as Shailene Ramdoo’s replacement by Kenya Volleyball Federation two weeks ago after the Italian’s disastrous outing with Malkia Strikers at Olympic qualifiers in Italy.
After his reappointment, Bitok, who returned to the country after spending ten years in Rwanda, identified Cameroon as Kenya’s main threat in Morocco.
“As you all know, Cameroon have been giving us difficult times in the last few years but I believe this is the moment to show the continent what Kenya is made of,” said Bitok before departing to Rabat.
“We don’t have a choice but bring smiles back to our fans’ faces. We are slowly going to start making changes in the team. It will be a painful experience, but we must embrace it.”
With Algeria having made a last minute withdrawal from the tournament, Malkia Strikers need to secure a win against Senegal tomorrow to finish top of the group with an unbeaten record.
The Mercy Moim captained side dug deep to win the first two sets 25-22 and 25-21 before Cameroon claimed the third set 16-25.
However, like a wounded lion, Malkia bounced back to stun their title rivals 25-17. Cameroon beat Senegal by straight sets (25-15, 25-23, 25-19) in their opening match on Thursday.
Kenya and Cameroon are likely to set up a repeat of the 2015 final in Congo Brazzaville where Malkia emerged victorious if both teams qualify for the semifinals.
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