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By CELLESTINE OLILO
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Kenya’s national women volleyball team got off to the best possible start at the 2018 FIVB World Volleyball Championship with a 3-0 (25-23, 25-22, 25-21)win over Kazakhstan at the 8,000-seater Hamamatsu Arena in Hamamtsu, Japan on Saturday.

It was the senior women’s national team’s first ever victory in the global competition, and the second by an African country after Cameroon beat Mexico 3-1 earlier in the day in Yokohama.

Kenya's players celebrate at the end during their 2018 FIVB World Volleyball Championship Group D match against Kazakhstan at the 8,000-seater Hamamatsu Arena in Hamamtsu, Japan on September 29, 2018. PHOTO | FIVB |

Kenya’s players celebrate at the end during their 2018 FIVB World Volleyball Championship Group D match against Kazakhstan at the 8,000-seater Hamamatsu Arena in Hamamtsu, Japan on September 29, 2018. PHOTO | FIVB |

Kenya's players celebrate at the end during their 2018 FIVB World Volleyball Championship Group D match against Kazakhstan at the 8,000-seater Hamamatsu Arena in Hamamtsu, Japan on September 29, 2018. PHOTO | FIVB |

Kenya’s players celebrate at the end during their 2018 FIVB World Volleyball Championship Group D match against Kazakhstan at the 8,000-seater Hamamatsu Arena in Hamamtsu, Japan on September 29, 2018. PHOTO | FIVB |

Kenya's players celebrate at the end during their 2018 FIVB World Volleyball Championship Group D match against Kazakhstan at the 8,000-seater Hamamatsu Arena in Hamamtsu, Japan on September 29, 2018. PHOTO | FIVB |

Kenya’s players celebrate at the end during their 2018 FIVB World Volleyball Championship Group D match against Kazakhstan at the 8,000-seater Hamamatsu Arena in Hamamtsu, Japan on September 29, 2018. PHOTO | FIVB |

Captain Mercy Moim delivered a splendid performance throughout the match, posting a match-high 24 points in the win over Kazakhstan – who are ranked 12 places above Kenya in the FIVB world rankings.

Kenya's skipper Mercy Moim spikes the ball during their 2018 FIVB World Volleyball Championship Group D match against Kazakhstan at the 8,000-seater Hamamatsu Arena in Hamamtsu, Japan on September 29, 2018. PHOTO | FIVB |

Kenya’s skipper Mercy Moim spikes the ball during their 2018 FIVB World Volleyball Championship Group D match against Kazakhstan at the 8,000-seater Hamamatsu Arena in Hamamtsu, Japan on September 29, 2018. PHOTO | FIVB |

Edith Wisah added 10 points for Kenya in the impressive triumph as Kazakhstan’s Sana Anarkulova led the Eastern Europeans with 11 points.

Kenya's Edith Wisah (left) and Violet Makuto celebrate a point during their 2018 FIVB World Volleyball Championship Group D match against Kazakhstan at the 8,000-seater Hamamatsu Arena in Hamamtsu, Japan on September 29, 2018. PHOTO | FIVB |

Kenya’s Edith Wisah (left) and Violet Makuto celebrate a point during their 2018 FIVB World Volleyball Championship Group D match against Kazakhstan at the 8,000-seater Hamamatsu Arena in Hamamtsu, Japan on September 29, 2018. PHOTO | FIVB |

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“Glory be to God. This is a big victory for us. It was a tight one but we won the battle eventually. We march on. That was for you Kenya,” said an excited middle blocker Trizah Atuka immediately after the match.

Kenya's players celebrate a point during their 2018 FIVB World Volleyball Championship Group D match against Kazakhstan at the 8,000-seater Hamamatsu Arena in Hamamtsu, Japan on September 29, 2018. PHOTO | FIVB |

Kenya’s players celebrate a point during their 2018 FIVB World Volleyball Championship Group D match against Kazakhstan at the 8,000-seater Hamamatsu Arena in Hamamtsu, Japan on September 29, 2018. PHOTO | FIVB |

Kenya's Violet Makuto (left) spikes the ball during their 2018 FIVB World Volleyball Championship Group D match against Kazakhstan at the 8,000-seater Hamamatsu Arena in Hamamtsu, Japan on September 29, 2018. PHOTO | FIVB |

Kenya’s Violet Makuto (left) spikes the ball during their 2018 FIVB World Volleyball Championship Group D match against Kazakhstan at the 8,000-seater Hamamatsu Arena in Hamamtsu, Japan on September 29, 2018. PHOTO | FIVB |

The first set was the most daunting for Kenya, as they trailed Kazakhstan 2-8 and 13-16 at the first and second technical timeouts respectively before recovering late in the game to win 25-23.

In the second set, the African queens led from start to finish, leading 8-3 and 16-13 at the first and second time outs and wrapping it up with a more comfortable 25-22 score line.

With Kazakhstan staring at yet another opening day defeat in their four appearances at the World Championship, the third set became a nail biting affair which needed the experience and prowess of setter Jane Wacu.

Kenya's players celebrate a point during their 2018 FIVB World Volleyball Championship Group D match against Kazakhstan at the 8,000-seater Hamamatsu Arena in Hamamtsu, Japan on September 29, 2018. PHOTO | FIVB |

Kenya’s players celebrate a point during their 2018 FIVB World Volleyball Championship Group D match against Kazakhstan at the 8,000-seater Hamamatsu Arena in Hamamtsu, Japan on September 29, 2018. PHOTO | FIVB |

The 35-year-old award winning setter took charge to bring Kenya level on 10-10 after trailing for the first few minutes of that third set. After that, the Kazakhs struggled with blocking and made unforced errors that allowed Kenya to stay on the lead. Christine Siwa soared for a palm stinging spike that gave Kenya the 25-23 score that they needed to close that final set.

Kenya will now confront Serbia Sunday afternoon in their next match, before taking on Puerto Rico, champions Brazil and Dominican Republic in other preliminary matches.

The Malkia Strikers are returning to the global competition after an eight-year hiatus, and they have set qualification to the second round as their minimum target.

The competition brings together 24 teams who have been spread across four pools of six teams each. The top four teams from each pool will advance to the second round.

Jane Wacu, Janet Wanja, Trizah Atuka , Edith Wisa, Lorine Chebet, Chrsitine Siwa, Mercy Moim, Noel Murambi, Sharon Chepchumba, Leonida Kasaya, Violet Makuto , Emmaculate Chemtai, Elizabeth Wanyama, Aggripina Kundu



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