NAIROBI, Kenya- Malkia Junior Strikers head coach, Catherine Mabwi, rued their weak set finishing in their 0-4 loss to Cuba in a Pool B clash in the ongoing FIVB Women’s World Under 23 Championships.
The loss left Kenya without victory after suffering identical set margin defeats to Brazil, Bulgaria and Turkey.
Cuba won the first set 15-9, before wading off a spirited fight from Malkia Juniors to take the second 15-10.
The third and fourth sets also went to the Cubans; 15-7 and 15-12 as they celebrated a first victory of the tournament.
Ailama Cese Montalvo and Diaris De La Caridad Perez Ramos scored 12 points each to inspire Cuba whilst Kenya Prisons outside hitter, Yvonne Wavinya was the toast for Malkia Juniors with eight in a match that lasted 55 minutes.
“We didn’t start well. Later on, we improved but finishing the set remained our problem. In the second set, we started to play and fight.
“Cuba is a very good team. They are very tall and have powerful attacks and good blocks,” reflected Mabwi who is yet to win even a set in the tournament.
Kenya captain Shyrine Jepkemboi thought they deserved more following their improved display.
“We did our best today. We were expecting more; we tried to win this match. Nevertheless, we had bad luck in our match as well.”
Kenya remains rooted at the bottom of Group B with no point after four matches.
They have no chance of qualifying to the knock out stage and their last match against Japan on Friday will be a mere formality.
All matches in Ljubljana are played under a new scoring system currently being tested: a best-of-seven, 15-point set format.
Kenya finished on a 0-15 set record back in 2013 and remain with a 0-16 balance here in Ljubljana so far.
Slovenia secured the first ticket to the semifinals of the 2017 FIVB Women’s U23 World Championhsip with a day to spare in pool play, but astounding wins by Bulgaria over Brazil and the Dominican Republic over China left the rest of the field wide open.
Hosts Slovenia not just qualified, but also secured pole position in Pool A with their straight-set sweep of Thailand, while the Dominican Republic shut out China and now have a great chance to make the semifinals of the competition for the third time in as many editions of the competition.
Also in Pool A, at Arena Stozice, Argentina scored their first win of the competition, surviving seven sets and also opening up the race for the 5-8 group.
Meanwhile in Pool B at Hala Tivoli, Bulgaria caused the sensation of the week when they demolished defending champions Brazil to remain the only undefeated team of the pool.
Turkey dispatched Japan in five leaving scores to be settled on Friday, the closing day of pool play.
-Additional reporting by FIVB