Volleyball: Malkia Strikers fall to USA in World Cup opener
National women’s volleyball team Malkia Strikers fell to USA in straight sets of 14-25, 20-25 and 14-25 in their opening match of the 2019 FIVB World Cup in Hamamatsu, Japan, yesterday.
The Kenyan girls put up a brave fight and unlike previous meetings when they could lose by bigger margins they gave the Americans a run for their money.
Going into the match against a side that had dominated them in previous ties, Malkia Strikers refused to go down without a proper fight staging a brilliant show even as they succumbed to defeat.
Despite the loss, the highlight of the match was coach Paul Bitok’s decision to field youngsters Sharon Chepchumba and Lorine Chebet in all the three sets.
Bitok, who is known for bringing out the best out of upcoming players, was a happy man at the end of the duel as former Kwanthanze Girls School duo of Chepchumba and Chebet did not disappoint on their World Cup debut.
Chepchumba impressed emerging Kenya’s top scorer with 11 points while Chebet also made a good account of herself in a match that USA’s Andrea Drew led with 14 points. Captain Mercy Moim and her assistant Noel Murambi scored six points each.
Bitok said he gave the budding players a chance with the aim of preparing them to fit in his future plans. “I used the match to field young players, they played well and I hope that the two (Chepchumba and Chebet) will be useful and help me in future,” Bitok said.
He said Malkia Strikers had developed fear against USA which saw them lose many points. “The players panicked and we lost many points at the beginning but we were more composed in the second set. I think we also improved in reception which is one of the areas we are looking to improve in this tournament.”
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