Kenya men’s volleyball team on Monday night beat hosts Rwanda 3-1 sets (25-23, 25-22, 23-25, 25-21) to book its slot in the Africa Cup of Nations to be held in Egypt in October this year.
The win at the Amahoro indoor Stadium in Kigali was the climax of the three-day CAVB Zone V World Championship qualifiers.
Kenya finished top on seven points after winning two games and losing one ahead of the hosts, who finished on six points, to book the final slot to the continental event.
The continental tournament will serve as an African qualifier for the World Championship set to be co-hosted in Italy and Bulgaria next year.
Kenya opened its campaign on a wrong foot losing 3-2 sets ((24-26, 21-25, 25-17, 26-24, 12-15)) to Uganda last Friday before bouncing back to edge out South Sudan 3-0 sets (25-17, 25-20, 25-15 ) on Sunday.
Uganda finished third with five points as South Sudan finished last with no points. Kenya coach Moses Epoloto praised his charged for digging deep to secure qualification.
“We showed great fighting spirit to bounce back from the opening day defeat and we have improved with each match. We were brilliant against Rwanda and the lads can savour the win.” Epolot told Nation Sport via phone on Monday.
Kenya had raced to a 2-0 lead before Rwanda, coached by Kenyan Paul Bitok, rallied to take the third set, setting up a tense fourth set.
However, the youthful Kenyan side led by the impressive Michael Chemos backed by Brain Melly, Cornelius Kirwa Jairus Bett and Sam Juma, dug deep to clinch the next set.
“Our focus now is to train well ahead of the continental showpiece since as we want to give a good account of ourselves and hopefully make a stab at the World Championship next year,” the coach added.
Bitok on the other hand, was graceful in defeat lauding the Kenyans for putting up a strong showing in the partisan Rwanda crowd.
“They played well considering they were playing away from home and managed to silence us, we shall meet on Cairo where hopefully we will gain revenge,” he said.
Kenya Volleyball Federation chairman Waithaka Kioni also lauded the team’s impressive display. The team is expected back on Wednesday.
The female version of the same tournament is set for later this week at the Safaricom Indoor Arena, Kasarani.