Ruthlessly efficient Wangeci powers Pipeline to victory
Posted Sunday, December 4 2011 at 18:00
- Kenya attacker the force that propelled Munala girls to glory
Their opponents considered them “weaklings”. Brimming with confidence, experienced Kenya Prisons wanted these ‘weaklings’ from Kenya Pipeline out of their way as fast as possible so that they could proceed to the festive season in a party mood.
As the two teams prepared to clash in the national volleyball league’s play-off final last week, tension were very high. Going by Prisons’ accomplishments over the years, one would not have doubted their title credentials.
What with the club making the bulk of the national team for the Africa Cup, All Africa Games, World Cup and World Clubs Championship.
Pipeline, on the other hand, had little to brag about. They were only driven by hunger for glory. Led by the young and gifted national team attacker Esther Wangeci, they fought their way to victory and stunned the pre-match favourites.
“They told us awful things, especially the younger players. Leteni hao watoto tuwacharaze haraka haraka (Bring on those kids; we will thrash them very fast),” Wangeci recalled. “Although we were hurt by their remarks, we were inspired to do our best. We were determined to prove them wrong.”
Pipeline had beaten Prisons 3-1 in the Khangati Cup while the latter triumphed 3-2 in the final of the Africa Clubs Championships.
In the national play-offs final last Sunday, things were not going well for Pipeline. They lost the first set 28-30, and fought to a 16-14 win in the second. As they struggled to find rhythm, a downpour forced officials to postpone the match to Monday.
This must have worked in their favour because on Monday they certainly were the better side, frustrating Prisons in every department with Wangeci neutralising every one of Everlyne Makuto’s spikes.
Pipeline eventually triumphed 25-23, 25-23, 25-22 to recapture the National League title they surrendered to Prisons in 2006.
Pipeline had halted Telkom’s six-year reign before winning the title seven times in a row.
One of the changes that coach Japheth Munala made at Pipeline when he took over this year was to move Wangeci from left to right attacker.
“We were not effective and weak on the right, so I wanted someone who would finish off the game easily,” said Munala.
Take up responsibility
“I’m happy she was able to take up that responsibility, which even earned her a first international cap in a short time.”
For Wangeci, respect for other players, hard work and listening to her seniors is what made her emerge as one of the best players.
Born in 1991 in Nyeri, Wangeci became a volleyball fan while in standard five at Karundus Primary School in Central Province.
“In my home region, volleyball is very popular. We always played after school,” says Wangeci, the first-born in family of six girls and two boys.
“My guardian, Ephraim Kabuge, urged me to embrace the sport because of my height advantage.”
When she joined Tetu High School in 2007 the coach, Nicodemus Baka, who had discovered her talent after she represented Karundas Primary in many national schools championships, drafted her in his team.