National women’s volleyball team Malkia Strikers opened their 2023 Africa Nations Championship campaign with a straight-sets victory over Rwanda as the games served off in Yaounde, Cameroon.
Coach Luizomar de Moura who has stuck to the same starting lineup in previous matches was forced to make two changes, bringing in middle blocker Triza Atuka for Belinda Barasa while Sharon Chepchumba, out injured, was replaced by Kenya Pipeline youngster Loice Simiyu.
Despite a shaky second set that saw Rwanda’s strong services trouble the Kenyan girls so much so they were trailing on several occasions, Malkia in true fashion of a champion recovered to take the set and the match 25-16, 25-20 and 25-17.
“The first team always has a lot of expectations but we are adjusting the team to play the way we want. I am happy with the performance and with the set scores.
“After playing the same side in a friendly match on Tuesday, we were expecting them to take risks with their services which is what they did in the second set. We will, however, improve with each match, this was just part of the process,” Luizomar said after the win.
The tactician further expressed satisfaction with Simiyu’s performance in the absence of Chepchumba adding that it was important to bring in more experienced players in the absence of the opposite player.
“In a competition like this where we have matches every day, it is important to have all the player ready for action. Today we couldn’t risk playing a dominantly young squad so we brought in the experienced Atuka and her leadership helped immensely,” the tactician explained.
Skipper Mercy Moim was full of praise for the young Simiyu and for the returning Atuka arguing that they had gelled well with the squad. Veronica Adhiambo’s contribution also did not go unnoticed.
“I have to thank my team for this start. We knew Rwanda would come hard at us after Tuesday’s friendly and we had to change strategy which worked well. This is a good start and I am confident we will grow into the competition,” Moim offered.