Pamela Masaisai has pulled out of the national women’s volleyball team ahead of next month’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games qualifiers in Cameroon due to a shoulder injury.
The Kenya Prisons outside hitter was part of the team that participated in the Intercontinental Olympic qualifiers in August in Italy.
Although Masaisai was named in the Prisons squad that recently retained the Kenya Volleyball Federation National League title, she was unused for the three-day event.
In her place, assistant coach Japheth Munala has identified budding setter Immaculate Nekesa, who has just cleared high school at National and East Africa champions Kwanthanze Secondary School, as her replacement.
Masaisai's absence means the quartet of Mercy Moim, Leonida Kasaya, Noel Murambi and upcoming Jemimah Siang'u are the only options for the Malkia Strikers in the outside hitter position.
“Rather than replacing Masaisai with another left attacker, we have seen it fit to have Nekesa. She is a youngster and I believe she can learn a thing or two during the training sessions that will later build her going forward,” said Munala after their morning training session at the Moi International Sports Centre Indoor Arena, Kasarani on Friday.
Munala also noted they will field left-handed Violet Makuto as a middle blocker in a bid to fill the gap left by regular Triza Atuka who is nursing a knee injury.
“We have no choice but to train Makuto as a centre player. In the previous assignments she has either come is as right or centre player but this time around she will feature prominently as a centre player,” said Munala who double up as KCB women’s coach.
The tactician also decried the absence of setters Jane Wacu, Janet Wanja and Esther Mutinda which has slowed down their preparations.
“Setters are the engine of the team and in their absence nothing much can be done. Only one setter, Joy Lusenaka is available and when it comes to proper training our hands are tied. However, I’m optimistic that it will be a full house by end of Saturday so that we can start proper training,” said Munala.
It remains to be seen whether Lorine Chebet, who was named in the provisional squad, will be released from Prisons Staff Training College in Ruiru to link up with the team.
Kenya - who last played in the Olympics in 2004 in Athens, Greece - will line up against hosts Cameroon, Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Botswana, Rwanda, and Mauritius for the sole slot reserved for Africa in the January 2 to 10 event.
Setters: Jane Wacu, Janet Wanja, Esther Mutinda, Joy Lusenaka
Outside hitters: Mercy Moim, Leonida Kasaya, Noel Murambi, Jemimah Siang'u
Middle blockers: Lorine Chebet, Edith Wisa, Carolyn Sirengo, Gladys Ekaru, Joan Chelagat
Opposite: Violet Makuto, Emmaculate Chemtai, Sharon Chepchumba
Libero: Agrippina Kundu, Lincy Jeruto, Elizabeth Wanyama