Malkia Strikers put up yet another improved performance in their 3-0 loss to World champions Serbia in their Pool A match at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday morning.
The Serbians, one of the favourites for gold here, won the three sets 25-21, 25-11, 25-20 at the Ariake Arena to remain on course for the title.
The 21 points Kenya registered in the first set were the highest the East Africans have gotten in the opening set here in their three matches so far.
Kenya lost her opening two matches 3-0 to hosts Japan and South Korea.
The third set was the most exciting of the three with the Kenyans holding their own against the European champions.
After Serbia took the first point, Kenya would rally to a 3-1 lead, then a service error from Mihajlovic would extent their lead to 4-2. This was followed by 6-4, 7-6 leads for the East Africans before a swing from Edith Wisah made it 9-8.
Serbia regrouped and a major rally ended up with a well hit ball five by Ana Bjelica for a 10-9 lead for the Europeans. Sharon Chepchumba’s attack earned Kenya an 11-10 lead then an unforced error brought Serbia back 11-ups.
From there on, there was no looking back for the Serbians with 12-11, 13-11, 14-12, 16-13 punctuating the score before a stunning hit from Milena Rasic wrapped up the set 25-20.
The Kenyans will be encouraged by their three outings so far, even though they haven’t won a set having lost all three matches 3-0. The set scores have been getting closer, a clear signal the gulf in class is reducing.
Sharon Kipchumba once again led the Kenyans in scoring, registering 12 points from 24 attacks she attempted, while skipper Mercy Moim had nine. Middle blocker Edith Wisah had four points in the loss.
Brankica Mihajlovic was Kenya’s tormentor in chief with 17 points – four aces included – while Aleksic Maja, Bjelica Ana and Tijana Boskovic had nine. Middle blocker Bianka Busa scored eight in a game that Kenyan managed one ace from Wisah.
Kenya play Dominican Republic early Saturday morning (3am EAT) before closing their Pool A campaign against gold medal hopefuls Brazil on Monday (3:45pm).
In other women’s volleyball matches played on Thursday, Paola Egonu had 17 points as Italy thumped Argentina 3-0 (25-21, 25-16, 25-15) in Pool B, while South Korea beat Dominican Republic 3-2 in a thrilling Pool A encounter at the Ariake Arena.
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