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Chepchumba stars in Malkia Strikers loss to USA

Saturday September 14 2019

Kenya's Sharon Chepchumba spikes the ball during their opening FIVB World Cup match against USA at Hamamatsu on September 14, 2019. PHOTO | FIVB

Kenya's Sharon Chepchumba spikes the ball during their opening FIVB World Cup match against USA at Hamamatsu on September 14, 2019. PHOTO | FIVB  

SAMUEL GACHARIRA
By SAMUEL GACHARIRA
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Malkia Strikers lost 3-0 (14-25, 20-25, 14-25) to USA in their opening FIVB World Cup match in Hamamatsu, Japan on Saturday morning.

Coach Paul Bitok made good his promise of trying out new players with the duo of Sharon Chepchumba and Lorine Chebet featuring in all sets.

It was an impressive World Cup debut for Chepchumba who emerged top scorer for Kenya with 11 points, just three shy of USA's Andrea Drews who had a game-high 14.

Chebet also returned five points while skipper Mercy Moim and her deputy Noel Murambi had six each.

"I also used the match to bring in two young players (Sharon and Lorine) and they came in at a good level and I hope that these players will help me in the future," Bitok told FIVB's official portal.

Despite the loss, Bitok noted that there was big improvement especially in reception.

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"First, I would like to congratulate USA for winning the match. I think we came in knowing we are playing a big team and some of my players were a bit afraid because they are a big team and we respect them. We lost a lot of points at the beginning of the match because of this. The players were panicking, but we came back in the second set when we stabilised. I think we improved on reception. This is what we were looking for in this tournament, to have good reception," he observed.

Moim said: "My team played so well. At some point, we lost concentration. In the first set, we didn't play well. Our reception was good but we lost in the attacks, but in the second set we had better results. I think they are a very good team and they gave us good motivation."

Kenya next play Netherlands on Sunday in Hamamatsu. The tournament, which has attracted 12 nations, is being played in round robin format.

Additional reporting by FIVB.

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