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Eyes on volleyball worlds as Kenya women’s
team posts mixed results in 2017

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s qualification to the 2018 World Championships in Japan may be the biggest achievement for the women’s volleyball team in 2017.

However, it will still remain a pipe dream for the former African giants to curve a niche at the global showpiece, where they are still scouring for their first victory despite having been at this level of competition a record seven times.

It is a challenge head coach Japheth Munala is keen to take in his strides as he gets his first shot at the global championships, having previously understudied his senior David Lung’aho.

“We have to be focused. Everyone is keen to win and the only thing we can be happy of in this caliber of competition is that you always learn something and the players always get better experience at playing on the big stage,” said Munala.

Yet for its all success, 2017 was also a year that the women’s volleyball team will want to forget fast after they failed to secure the Africa Nations Cup title, losing out to host Cameroon in Yaoundé in October.

“It was unfair. We had all the plans, but we lacked the killer punch and Cameroon deserved the win,” said Munala.

The only solace from the tournament was that the top two teams qualified for the World Championships in Japan. And coach Munala is optimistic he will get his revenge in Japan next season when the two teams clash in the preliminary rounds.

Kenya remain the most successful team in women volleyball from Africa. They have clinched the continental title a record nine times, Egypt have won it six times while Cameroon claimed their maiden title at home.

The big difference and high improvement by Cameroon can be tagged to the fact that they represented Africa at the Grand Prix and the Olympics Games, where they gained more exposure and skills. Kenya missed out in both events despite coach Munala having some of the veteran players like Jane Wacu and Janet Wanja to his disposal.

Nonetheless, the West Africans were vouched to pose a higher threat in the competition as they had invested heavily in training abroad prior to the tourney.

Despite the loss, Kenya duo captain Mercy Moim and Edith Wisa were declared the best attacker and best blocker respectively and the coach is optimistic they will carry to the World Championships their good performances.

However, lack of government support and access to indoor facility to train may also have contributed to Kenya’s poor show, which the coach believes they must work hard to overcome similar challenges ahead of the World Championships in 2018.

Munala is now banking on the quality within his ranks and the experience gained to guide the team to success in the new season.

In Japan, Kenya will not have an easy sail to the second round as they must navigate precariously against tough rivals like Serbia, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Kazakhstan in Pool D.

The World Championships will run from Sept. 29 to Oct. 20.


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