Malkia Strikers to camp in Serbia ahead of World Championships
National women's volleyball side Malkia Strikers is in Belgrade, Serbia ahead of a five-day final camp before the FIVB Women's World Championships set to serve off on 23 September in the Netherlands.
Under the tutelage of Brazilian Luizomar de Moura, Malkia Strikers successfully completed a two-month high-perfomance training in Brazil, sponsored by FIVB, before moving to Belgrade for the final push.
"I am happy with the team's performance in Brazil. That was a fantastic experience and I witnessed the team improve with each day.
We are thankful to FIVB for making this happen, to Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) , National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) and Mozzart Bet for supporting the team to achieve what we have," offered coach Moura upon arrival in Belgrade where Mozzart Bet had a team of Kenyan journalists waiting to welcome the side and walk the final preparation journey with them ahead of the trip to Netherlands.
The tactician believes that having a blend of experienced and young players in the squad worked to his long-term plans for the team.
"The Brazilian experience was important especially for the young players led by the setter Emmaculate Nekesa and Veronica Kilabat as they got to learn from some of the country's best setters and they have improved massively," added Moura.
Moura adds that the Belgrade camp will help the team adapt to the European climate and timeline.
Assistant coach Paul Bitok echoed Moura's sentiments on the team's preparations saying that this is the best prepared squad Kenya has ever presented to any championship and they expect to perfect everything in Belgrade ahead of the championship.
"We have improved on all the departments but reception is yet to get to the level we would want for the level of competition we expect. We, however, have a few more days here and the chance to fine tune all areas," Bitok offered.
Meanwhile, lethal left attack and team captain Mercy Moim says that being in constant training has improved the team's performance and they expect to cause some upsets.
"Unlike previously where we would train at Kasarani for a few days before any major events or get interrupted every so often when the gymnasiums are being used for other things, we had everything we could ask for in OSASCO, Brazil. We do not have any excuses now. It is time to implement everything we have learned.
This is the best preparation I have had in my 15 years of playing in the national team, all thanks to Mozzart Bet who came to our rescue when our trip to Brazil looked impossible. We also have a good blend of young and experienced players who have made it to the final 14 on merit.
This Serbian camp gives us the opportunity to get some competitive matches before going to Netherlands. Our last two weeks in Brazil have been purely for training as their league is now on and they could not get the time to play any friendlies," a grateful Moim offered.
The skipper had promised Kenyans that this year's championship will not end at the group stages for Malkia as they have everything they need to cause some upsets.
The nine-time African champions are looking to get a second win at the World Championships since their historic triumph when they stunned Kazakhstan by straight sets during the 2018 edition held in Japan.
One of the youngsters introduced to the World in the 2018 championship by coach Bitok and has grown into a household name in Africa, Sharon Chepchumba makes her second appearance in Netherlands where she says alot is expected of her and her teammates and she is ready to deliver.
"We are grateful to our hosts in Brazil and the various sponsors who made this possible. At the beginning of the camp our level was low but we have improved massively and are ready for battle. The coaches have given us alot and we promise to deliver," Chumba said.
They are drawn in a tough looking pool A in a draw which split the 24 participating teams into four first round pools of six teams. Malkia Strikers are pitted against Cameroon, hosts Netherlands, European champions Italy, Puerto Rico and Belgium.
2. Noel Murambi
3. Meldinah Sande
4. Veronica Adhiambo
1. Edith Mukuvilani
2. Gladys Ekaru
3. Lorine Chebet
4. Belinda Barasa
1. Emmaculate Nekesa
2. Veronica Kilabat
1. Sharon Chepchumba
2. Everline Makuto
1. Agripina Kundu
2. Yvonne Wavinya