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Malkia Strikers eye big dream in ongoing World women’s volleyball championships

Friday, September 30th, 2022 10:00 | By
Malkia Strikers eye big dream in ongoing World women’s volleyball championships
Malkia Strikers. PHOTO/Courtesy.

Top scorer Sharon ‘Chumba’ Chepchumba says it will be a “big dream” if Kenya can become the first African team to reach the second round of the Women’s World Volleyball Championship.

Chepchumba was delighted after her teammates improved their chances when beating Cameroon 3-0 in Arnhem on Tuesday.

Victory in one of their final two group games should be enough to secure history for the Kenyans.

“That will be a big dream for some of us, so we have to push harder to qualify, which would be a dream come true,” she told BBC Sport Africa.

Kenya faces Italy, one of the favourites and the current Volleyball Nations League champions, on Thursday before meeting Puerto Rico, a match the East Africans are targeting, on Saturday.

The team’s victory against Cameroon, with whom Kenya has swapped continental titles over the years, leaves coach Luizomar de Moura’s side fourth in their six-team pool, with the top four making the quarter-finals.

“I believe in my teammates and the effort they showed [against Cameroon] was magical,” Chepchumba said after the game.

“I’m really proud of my teammates because what we discussed and agreed is what they delivered.”

Kenya and Cameroon are fierce African rivals - having swapped continental titles over many years - with Chepchumba saying the win meant even more because it came against the team that beat them in the last three African championships’ finals.

“I don’t like it when Cameroon are beating us, so I just had to put up my efforts and make sure we won and get the respect,” she said.

“We’ve been training hard for this, so I didn’t want to lose this match because it will determine so many things in my life and my teammates’ lives.”

Kenya’s victory was vindication for Brazil’s De Moura, who has returned to take charge as part of a project backed by volleyball’s world governing body, the FIVB.

“The victory means more than just the three points in the pool,” de Moura said.

“It also gives Kenya the chance to move ahead in the FIVB rankings. In the African championships, Cameroon beat Kenya and passed us in the rankings so this victory shows we can be the greatest in Africa and compete at a high level.”

For Cameroon, Tuesday night’s defeat was bitterly disappointing given they are the higher-ranked team and had hoped to give themselves a chance of taking the next step on the global stage.

“It’s always hard to lose a match, especially when you know you are able to win it - so it’s really hard to take,” Cameroon’s Emelda Piatta Zissi said.                                                                              

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