Malkia Strikers fall in first Brazil camp friendly
The national women’s volleyball team Malkia Strikers were on Friday defeated 3-0 by hosts Osasco Club in the first build-up game of their Brazil training camp at the Jose Liberatti gym in Sao Paulo.
Malkia went down fighting 25-22, 25-19, 25-23 in the late serve-off encounter that was played behind closed doors.
Paul Bitok’s charges have been in the South American country for the last two weeks preparing for the 2022 World Championships set to be played between September 23 and October 15 in the Netherlands and Poland.
The nine-time African champions will be in Brazil for a total of three months. Another friendly against the five-time Brazilian champions Osasco has been scheduled for next Friday.
Speaking after the game, Bitok, who will leave his role as coach after the World Championships to seek an administration role with the Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF), saw improvements in his team’s reception of the ball as well as their attacking play but insists that they have to keep improving.
He said: “Today’s game was a test match to gauge the progress we have been making since we arrived here. It was a good game as the girls managed to have good receptions and attacked the ball very well. We are however still having problems with our cover balls and our service is still very weak.
“All in all we are pleased as it is our first game and we have more build-up matches lined up where we will continue assessing the team and correcting the mistakes seen.”
Bitok and his assistant Japheth Munala are being assisted by coaches from the Osasco team including head coach Luizomar de Moura in an engagement that has been possible thanks to world governing body FIVB’s Empowerment Programme.
Not new to Malkia Strikers
Luizomar is not new to the Kenyan team as he was also involved in helping the team prepare for the delayed 2020 Olympics in Tokyo in the first engagement under the Empowerment Programme.
In his assessment after the game, the 56-year-old said, “The team has been getting better thanks to the hard work that we have all put in. We played a good game today against a team with experienced players that play in the Brazilian top league as well as international leagues and showed good insights which are important for the work we intend to do here.”
Middle Blocker Edith Wisa echoed Bitok and Luizomar’s sentiments regarding the team’s visible improvements but noted the loss could have come as a result of nervousness among the players.
“The game was a good experience but for me, I can say we were a bit nervous as it was our first game against a very experienced side. Moving forward I believe we will be better and will show it with the other friendly matches we have,” she said.
Below is the team that started the game as well as the complete squad that is in Brazil;
Moim Mercy, Murambi Noel, Lorine Chebet, Edith Wisa, Sharon Chepchumba, Emmaculate Nekesa, and Agripina Kundu.
Outside Hitters - Noel Murambi, Mercy Moim, Yvonne Wavinya, Veronica Adhiambo, Meldine Sande
Middle Blockers - Belinda Barasa, Gladys Ekaru, Edith Wisa, Magdaline Mwende and Lorine Chebet
Opposite Attackers - Violet Makuto and Sharon Chepchumba
Setters - Veronica Kilabat and Emmaculate Nekesa
Liberos - Veronica Makokha and Aggripina Kundu