The national women volleyball team Malkia Strikers know the stakes higher this time round.
As they continue with their training sessions in Brazil in readiness for next month’s World championships to be jointly hosted by Netherlands and Poland, the Kenyan team knows what awaits them.
The team has been camping in Brazil for the last one month and is optimistic of good results when the global showpiece serves off from September 23 to October.
The Kenyan girls have been training and playing competitive friendly matches, where out of six, they have won once. Despite the loss, they are optimistic the build-up matches will help them improve in good time ahead of the championships.
Yesterday, Malkia surrendered a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 (28-26, 26-24, 23-25, 23-25, 10-15) to Taubate volleyball Club at Osasco Club in Sao Paulo State.
The Paul Bitok-coached side took a comfortable lead before their opponents rallied to equalise the tally before winning the fifth set.
Bitok picked Belinda Barasa, captain Mercy Moim, impressive Veronica Adhiambo, outside hitters Emmaculate Nekesa and Sharon Chepchumba, Edith Wisa and libero Agrippina Kundu for the starting side.
Receptions and serves were good in the opening two sets before the girls lost concentration and lost the subsequent three sets.
Malkia Strikers lost twice to the Brazilian under-21 team, twice to their hosts Osasco and Sao Caetano. Kenya beat Sesi Sorocaba 3-0 (28-26, 25-20, 25-15).
“We have been having problems with both receptions and services,” said Bitok in an earlier interview, saying there is a lot of improvement in blocks and attacks.
Malkia are in Brazil, courtesy of FIVB’s Empowerment Programme, as they prepare for the World Championships.
Kenya are in group A that has European champions Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Puerto Rico and Cameroon.