National women’s volleyball team, Malkia Strikers, have something to smile about as they embark on their journey to Netherlands, after signing their preparations off with a straight-sets (25-18,25-20,25-11) victory over Serbian national team B.
The Luizomar de Moura-coached side are in Belgrade for their final leg of preparations ahead of the Women’s World Championships set for 23 September to 15 October in Netherlands.
Coming off a 3-0 loss to Serbian champions Red Star Belgrade on Saturday, the eleven-time African champions needed something to boost their morale for the battle ahead.
Coach Moura trusted the same starting line up he had for the Red Star Belgrade match on Saturday with skipper Mercy Moim, Lorine Chebet, Noel Murambi, Edith Wisah, Sharon Chepchumba and Emmaculate Nekesa on the floor, Agripina Kundu maintained her libero role.
The Kenyan side started the match on a high, taking the lead at 8-3 forcing the Serbian coach to have a talk with his charges in an attempt to have them settled into the match.
A great fighting spirit from Malkia Strikers gave a different impression of the team that cracked at crucial moments against Red Star as they stretched their advantage to seven points at 14-7 and then 16-10.
Veronica Adhiambo came in for Chebet with the scores at 18-12 and the Serbian side showing real signs of a comeback at 18-14, forcing Moura to call for timeout.
The Serbian youngsters tried to mount a comeback but the difference was way out of reach as they lost the set 25-18.
Maintaining the same starting six, Kenya went 4-0 up in the second set before the hosts could take their timeout but even then, Kenya continues their perfect showing to lead 8-3 and 10-4, despite a few service blunders.
The Serbians cut the deficit to 10-7 and the Brazilian tactician felt the need to rest Chumba and Nekesa for Violet Makuto and Veronica Kilabat who pushed the score to 13-8 before the other duo could return.
Despite the scoreline, Malkia Strikers were quilty of going soft with their attacks on numerous occasions which made the Kenyan coaches quite unsettled and could be heard shouting instructions from the bench.
Kenya led 16-14 as Adhiambo was back on the floor for Moim, gifting Moura’s charges two points off of her services for 18-14.
Moim got back on the floor at 19-17, Kenya having needed a timeout before the change to put their house in order as the Serbians looked set for a comeback.
The difference was down to one at 20-19 and level at 20 after a terrible reception that saw the ball land on the stands. Moura’s charges found their mojo back and took the score to 22-20 and not even a Serbian timeout could stop Malkia as they won the set 25-20.
Serbia took the lead for the first time in the match at 2-1 in the third set but their stay at the helm was shortlived as Kenya assumed lead at 3-2 and were ahead 7-4 before Serbia could call for a timeout.
The match was reduced to a one-point game at 8-7 with Kenya on the lead and the difference remained at 9-8, 10-9 before moving to 11-9 and further to 13-9 much to the excitement of the Kenyans who needed a win to boost their morale ahead of the global championship.
It was a six-point advantage for Kenya at 16-10 that stretched to ten at 20-10 and 21-11 with poor reception burying the Serbians further in trouble as they eered their way into a 25-11 defeat.
Kenya travel to Netherlands for the World Championships on Tuesday and begin their Pool A campaign against the hosts on Friday.