The Kenya women’s volleyball team will step out in desperate search for a maiden victory at the Olympics when they take on the Dominican Republic on Friday.

Though they have lost all the opening two group matches, Malkia Strikers’ improved performance in Tokyo has dominated spaces in the local media.

Kenya went down by straight sets (25-15 25-11 25-23) in the opening match against host Japan at the Ariake Arena on Sunday.

The subsequent Group ‘A’ tie ended 3-0 (24-14, 25-22 and 26-24) in favour of Korea.

But while the East Africans, ranked top in the continent are still waiting for a miraculous first victory at the Summer Games, as a group, individual brilliant performances have been witnessed from the Kenyan side that is in a tough group consisting of reigning European and world champions Serbia, two-time Olympic champions Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Japan and Korea.

Serbia are also the 2016 Olympic silver medalists.

Jane Wacu

Wacu finally made it to the Olympics after four previous failed attempts.

Having played at the FIVB World Cup, World Championship and World Grand Prix, which she won in 2015, and now Olympic, Wacu will go down as one of the greatest Kenyan female volleyball players in history.

The colourful setter who is among the most experienced players in the Kenyan setup, has dazzled with individual displays, especially in the last two sets against Japan.

Interestingly, despite putting a good performance in Japan, Wacu, Kenya’s volleyball poster girl, had not played competitive volleyball since March 2019.

Wacu is based in Seychelles, a country that banned all sporting activities following the outbreak of Covid-19 almost two years ago. She plays for Anse Royale Club.

Despite having made it clear that she might hang her sneakers after Tokyo, Wacu, a career Prisons wardress back in Kenya, is having her best moments in her sunset days on the court.

Sharon Chepchumba

Blessed with physique and power, the KCB player is among the star players in the Kenyan squad.

A gamble by Italian tactician Shailen Ramdoo to move Chepchumba across the net; from her favourite left to the right, seems to have paid off if her performance in Tokyo is anything to go by.

Chepchumba played second fiddle to captain Mercy Moim, whom she had been battling for a place in the starting line up until Ramdoo, came with the magic wand.

Ramdoo, who was seconded to Kenya by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) had a short stint with the team in 2019 before he was let go following the arrival of coach Paul Bitok from Rwanda.

In the match against Japan, for example, Chepchumba scored an unprecedented 18 points, including 11 in the last set.

Leonida Kasaya

She is among the shortest players in the Kenyan squad, standing at just 168 centimeters but Kasaya has won the hearts of many for her patriotism and dedication.

If you watched her play her heart out in the defeats to Japan and Korea, you would be forgiven to think that she is among the happiest players who are enjoying the ambiance of a foreign country.

The truth of the matter is that Kasaya knows that she will head straight to her rural home when she finally jets back to Kenya to mourn her elder sister who passed away just a day before the official start of the Olympics.

“l had planned to see you when I come back home. You wished me well and instructed me to represent the country well, little did I know that those were the last word I will hear from you,” Kasaya paid tribute to her departed sister.

Kenya will take on the Dominican Republic in the third group match on Friday.

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