• Head coach Paul Bitok lauded Malkia Strikers for their gallant fight against the North Africans who he termed as more tactical and non-erratic.
• Cameroon who have been billed as Kenya's biggest threat defeated Botswana in straight sets of 25-17, 25-4 and 27-25.
Kenya's national women's volleyball team collected maximum points in their opening tie against Egypt to keep their hopes to top the five-nation 2020 Africa Summer Olympic Games qualifiers on Sunday night in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
Head coach Paul Bitok lauded Malkia Strikers for their gallant fight against the North Africans who he termed as more tactical and non-erratic.
"Our opponents are a very tactical team and I must commend my team for collecting the three points. It is hard to edge a side that makes minimal errors but we did, and I'm very happy," noted Bitok.
"We are done with one match and we now focus on Botswana on Monday. There is no room for us to underrate any team in this tournament," added the tactician.
On the other hand, the Egyptians' coach Marco Queiroga inexperience was responsible for their loss to Kenya.
"Kenya is not an easy side. They got immense experience but our team is mainly comprised of young players. We pushed Kenya and it was evident from the score progression that my girls can fight from behind but finishing becomes tough," noted Queiroga.
Kenya's Malkia Strikers came from a set down to beat their longtime rivals Egypt 3-1 to light up their Tokyo 2020 Olympics qualification campaign.
The opening set commenced on a neck-to-neck note with Kenya taking a 7-8 advantage at the first Technical Timeout (TTO), but the girls from Pharaoh's land turned tables to grab a 16-13 lead at the second. The North Africans were steadfast in their chase and soon cruised past Malkia Strikers 18-17 then 20-22 and eventually won the set 23-25.
Paul Bitok's charges regrouped at the interval and outclassed their opponents in the second period of play. The East Africans led from start to end, romping to a 8-6 and 16-11 at the TTOs, then 20-14 smashed it off 25-15.
The third set began on a tight note with the sides tying 5-5 but the North Africans taking a 6-8 lead at the first TTO.
Bitok's charges lagged behind 10-16 in the second break, after which they regrouped and caught up with the Egyptians at 20-20 then cruised to 24-21 and sealed the set 25-21 for 2-1 lead.
In the fourth set, Malkia Strikers opened a commendable margin of scores but almost blew it. The side which is chasing a return to the Summer Olympics stage trailed 1-3 in the begining but recovered to command proceedings with commendable margins of 8-4, 11-4, 16-13, 18-13 and 21-13.
At this juncture, though late, Egypt awakened to only narrow the scores to 23-16 and 24-20, but the Kenyan lineup won 25-22 to seal the victory.
In the meantime, Cameroon who have been billed as Kenya's biggest threat defeated Botswana in straight sets of 25-17, 25-4 and 27-25. Today, Kenya faces off with Botswana and Nigeria who had a rest day on Sunday play the hosts Cameroon. Egypt resume play tomorrow.