General Service Unit (GSU) are unstoppable, coach Gideon Tarus said as the team begins its campaign to defend the men’s Kenya Volleyball Federation National League title at Ruringu Stadium in Nyeri County on Friday.
The paramilitary side, which has won the league since 2017, lines up against Kenya Army in their first match of the day before taking on Vihiga County in their second game.
GSU finished the 2019 regular season unbeaten and only dropped one set against Kenya Ports Authority en route to defending the league title.
Coach Tarus said they will pick up from where they left. “Nothing has changed in our game plan. We have signed one player, right attacker Kelvin Omuse, from Equity Bank. We want to finish the league without dropping a set. Our main goal is to defend the title for the fourth time. We have done it before and I don’t see why we shouldn’t do it again this season,” Tarus said.
Kenya Prisons, who blew hot and cold last season, play Equity Bank and league returnees Kenya Forest Service (KFS).
Prisons coach David Lung’aho said they want to get it right this time around. The acclaimed former women’s national team coach said: “We want to start well and we look forward to collecting maximum points. We were not at our best last season but we are keen to make amends.”
KFS coach Wachira Gatuiria said they want their presence felt. “Things have changed and the league is more competitive, but we be out to cut a niche for ourselves,” he said.
In the women’s category, star-studded Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) have opted out of the first leg. The bankers, who finished second last season, were scheduled to play Bungoma County and Kenya Pipeline.
KCB coach Japheth Munala said they were not participating in tournament because new players have not gelled.
“We signed new players this season, it will take time for them to synchronise with their teammates. At the same time, we are training indoors in preparation for the African Club Championship that will be held in Egypt in April. If we break and play outdoors, that slows the momentum,” Munala, who doubles up as the national women’s team assistant coach, said.
“I can’t tell whether we will participate in the other legs prior to the club championship, but time will tell. Right now, our priority is to get players in good shape so that they can fit in well in our system of play.”
KCB signed national team captain Mercy Moim and middle blocker Edith Wisa from champions Kenya Prisons, on-form Sharon Chepchumba from Kenya Pipeline as well as Ugandan middle blocker Sharon Amito.
Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), who made a debut in the play-offs last season, have a match against Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) before they parade against Prisons Kenya.
DCI coach Daniel Bor said, “We picked valuable lessons last season and we hope to better our performance.”
Kenya Prisons coach Josp Barasa said it’s always hard to retain the title but was quick to note that they have what it takes to guard the trophy.
GSU v Kenya Army (9am)
AP Kenya v Vihiga County (9am)
KPA v Prisons Mombasa (9am)
Kenya Forest Rangers v Prisons Nairobi (9am)
Equity BANK v Prisons Kenya (9am)
KDF v Western Prisons (9am)
Kenya Army v KDF (11am)
Western Prisons v Equity Bank (11am)
Prisons Kenya v Kenya Forest Service (11am)
Rift Valley Prisons v AP Kenya (11am)
Prisons Nairobi v KPA (1pm)
Vihiga County v GSU (1pm)
Prisons Mombasa v Rift Valley (1pm)
DCI v KDF (9am)
Kenya Pipeline v Ashton (9am)
Kenya Prisons v Ashton (11am)
KDF v Bungoma County (11am)
Prisons Kenya v DCI (11am)