Sharon Chepchumba's star shone once again despite Kenya losing her third consecutive match to Serbia in straight sets (13-25, 11-25, 17-25) at the ongoing FIVB World Cup in Hamamatsu, Japan on Monday.
Chepchumba, who top scored for Kenya in the opener against US, was impressive against the World champions with a return of 10 points, which was only one shy of the Serbian duo of Ana Bjelica and Maja Aleksic who emerged top scorers.
Middle blocker Edith Wisa claimed seven points while outside hitters Leonida Kasaya and Mercy Moim had four each. Carolyne Sirengo finally made her World Cup debut with substitute appearances in the first and third set as Kenya coach Paul Bitok continued the policy of rotating his squad.
But Kenya's habit of starting slowly persisted as the Serbians strolled past Malkia Strikers in the first two sets (25-13, 25-11). Malkia Strikers only turned up in the third set and Bitok blamed the dour display on the gulf in quality between the two sides.
"Today’s match was not good, especially the first two sets. We were worried about the scores because we didn’t want to come to the World Cup and have low scores, but we managed to get a good score in the third set. We came in knowing we would be playing the world champions and the European champions and this scared some of us and it was not easy for us to contain them. They came in with a specific target to serve against our two left-sided players and really pressured them. When we weren’t playing well, I told myself to use other players so they can get some experience," said Bitok.
Kenya captain Moim said: "We tried to play our game but we lost concentration from the start to the beginning. We fought but the main problem was our attack was too weak. We played better in the first two days and I don’t know what the problem was."
Kenya, who lie bottom of the 12-team log, next face Brazil on Wednesday in Hamamatsu. The tournament, which has attracted 12 nations, is being played in round robin format.
Additional reporting by FIVB.