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Kenya out to avoid early elimination from women’s volleyball worlds

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Nine-time African champions Kenya are out to qualify for the second round of the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship that kicks off in Japan next Saturday (Sept. 29).

Speaking ahead of their departure from Nairobi on Thursday evening, head coach Japheth Munala is targeting at least two victories in their Pool B to advance past the preliminary stage of the competition they are returning for the first time since 2010.

“Our strategy is to go for victory against Puerto Rico, Kazakhstan and Dominican Republic and try to contain Brazil and Serbia who are world powers. We are not going to underrate any side, every game will be like a final to us,” Munala stressed.

He explained the team prepared for the worlds by taking on male sides to help them fortify their strength as they seek to make an impact at the global showpiece.

Experienced left attacker Mercy Moim who plays for Azerrail Baku in Azerbaijan, will captain the side that features setters Jane Wacu and Janet Wanja who competed at the 2010 showpiece.

Reigning African best blocker Edith Wisah of Kenya Prisons, will play middle role alongside Trizah Atuka of Kenya Pipeline, Lorine Chebet (Prisons) and Christine Siwa (KCB).

Moim will partner with Noel Murambi (Pipeline), Sharon Chepchumba (Prisons) and Leonida Kasaya (KCB) in left attacking.

Right attackers are Violet Makuto and Emmaculate Chemtai while Elizabeth Wanyama and Agripina Kundu will play libero.

Chepchumba, who was voted Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association’s Most Valuable Player in 2017 and Chebet, all formerly of Kwathanze Girls Secondary School, are the surprise inclusions.

Kenya will play their opener against Kazakhstan (Sept. 29) before locking horns with Serbia the next day, with Puerto Rico, Brazil and Dominican Republic following in that order on Oct. 1, 3 and 4.

Kenya missed the last world championships held in Italy in 2014 after making their debut in 1994, and having competed in the worlds in 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010 at the height of their supremacy over Africa.

This year’s competition, to run for 21 days, will be held in the cities of Yokohama, Hamamatsu, Kobe, Nagoya, Osaka and Sapporo.



Underdog Kenya departs for Japan, targets second round at volleyball worlds

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Kenya head coach Japheth Munala has warned his side not to focus on past glories, but target conquering new frontiers as they line up among the 24 teams for the World Championships in Japan, which starts from Sept. 29 to Oct. 20.

Kenya is returning to the World Championships after eight years, but Munala says this does not take the gloss off their shinny amour and warned the underdog status will play well to their advantage as they come up against experienced giants.

“It is easy to target to claim maximum points against us. But we know our game and we will dig deep to claim a few scalps,” said Munala Thursday in Nairobi. “Underrate us at your own peril, because we qualified by merit.”

The Kenyan contingent of 20, 14 players and six officials, jet out Thursday for Japan and the coach says they are nearing their peak form.

“The squad has gone through training well and we are all ready to ramble. There were two injury concerns for our setter Jane Wacu and Leonida Kasaya. But both have shaken off their problems and they are ready for the action,” he added.

Kenya is the second team from Africa with their other colleagues being Cameroon. The team is targeting to finish in the top four positions in their pool to qualify for the second round matches and remain on course to claim a shot at the Main Cup title.

Kenya is in Pool D alongside former champions Brazil, Serbia, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Kazakhstan.

“We are set for the championship and the underdog tag will help us triumph in Japan. At least I will only be focusing on the second round and once I achieve that then we can think of winning the title. Kenya is parading a young team and we are not afraid to challenge the giants and carve our own niche,” said Munala.

Former Kenyan coach Sadatoshi Sugawara from japan has organized for the team some build up matches against local teams to help the team remain focused and sharp ahead of the tournament, which starts on Sept 29.

Kenya’s first game will be against Kazakhstan on Sept 29 before confronting Serbia a day later. They will then face Puerto Rico, Brazil and the Dominican Republic in other preliminary matches.



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