Malkia Olympics dream buried by Puerto Rico


Assistant Malkia Strikers coach, Japheth Munala gives the players instructions during a TTO in their 3...
Malkia Strikers coach, Japheth Munala gives the players instructions during a TTO in their 3-0 defeat to Puerto Rico on Monday. May 23, 2016. PHOTO/Dennis Machio

Malkia Strikers dream of playing at the Rio 2016 Olympics was buried on Monday  morning after hosts Puerto Rico whitewashed the African giants 3-0 (25-08, 25-23, 25-15) during the final game of the FIVB World Qualifiers in San Juan.

Puerto Rico therefore, won the remaining ticket to the August Rio Olympics games and breezed through the Kenyans on the back of strong and well located serves and tight defense at the net carried that earned them a comfortable first set where Malkia seemed out of psyche.

Kenya’s Noel Murambi finished with 12 points in the losing effort while Everlyne Makuto and Bracksides Khadambi added nine and eight points.

The Kenyans looked more relaxed in the second when Murambi broke a tied score at seven-all with a big spike but Puerto Rico came back to take the lead 16-13.

Kenya recovered to claim back the one-point lead 17-16 behind a kill by Everlyne Makuto.

At 23-all Kenya made a defensive mistake after poor communication from setter Wacu and Triza Atuka that made Rican Aury  Cruz to finish the set 25-23 with her spike from the back court.

Head coach David Lung’aho nonetheless, lauded his team for playing well.

Puerto Rican players cheer on as their team beats Malkia Strikers in San Juan on Monday, May 23, 2016. PHOTO/Dennis Machio
Puerto Rican players cheer on as their team beats Malkia Strikers in San Juan on Monday, May 23, 2016. PHOTO/Dennis Machio

“Today we played very well compared to the first two days posting fewer errors and playing with a good fighting spirit. The team showed very aggressive blocking and good service delivery. It was an amazing display by the girls especially considering we were playing against 10,000 fans. It was a tough match but the spirit displayed by our players gives us hope as we progress to the World grand prix where we expect good fireworks.” he noted.

Puerto Rico took an 8-6 lead in the third against a relentless Kenya inspired by the veteran Khadambi and with the attacks from Everlyn Makuto. Finally the hosts took command of the score 16-10.

Rosa gave enough comfort with spike and ace for 18-12 and the fans were thunderous. Daly Santana sealed the triumph with a bomb from the back court for a 25-15 and the ticket to Rio.

The victory earned Puerto Rico the last ticket available to the 12-team Olympic tournament, which is also their first time appearance joining hosts Brazil, China, Serbia, Russia, Argentina, United States, Cameroon, Japan, Italy, Netherlands and South Korea.

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Story By Carol Kones
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