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Kenya Pipeline lose African crown to Al Ahly

Kenya Pipeline were denied an eighth continental volleyball title by hosts Al Ahly who beat them 3-1 in the finals of the African Volleyball Club championships in Cairo, Egypt on Sunday evening.

Ruth Jepng’etich and Kenyan international Janet Wanja however grabbed personal accolades as they were feted as best spiker and best setter respectively by the Confederation of African Volleyball (CAVB).

Ahly, who now have seven African club titles, easily swept aside Pipeline 25-16 in the first set to gain an advantage in the entertaining encounter staged before a crowd of 2000 spectators at the October Hall.

Center blocker Mariam Metwally, who was voted the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, was a constant pain in the backside for the Kenyan girls with her killer blocks and accurate serves, and accounted for a good 23 points for her team.

Pipeline however drew level in the second set thanks to the heroics of left attacker Monica Biama whose powerful spikes produced 14 points to saw the Kenyan girls gliding to a 25-23 win.

In the third set, Pipeline employed a good combination if pace and skill while their opponents relied on their lethal wing attackers.

Metwally was unrelenting with her palm stinging spikes, as Ahly led 6-2 when Coach Japheth Munala called the first Technical Time Out.

SHARP SPIKES

Setter Janet Wanja then outdid herself with lovely setting skills in a spirited attempt to reduce the deficit, but sharp spikes from Nahla Sameh and Metwally saw Al Ahly seal the third set 25-20.

In the make or break fourth set, Kenyan attackers Triza Atuka and Ruth Jepng’etich produced quick spikes as Pipeline took a 16-15 lead at the first Technical Time Out.

But Ahly quickly put their act together through the efforts of wing hitter Sherihan Sameh who made six straight serves to enable Al Ahly wrap up the set 28-26 for a 3-1 victory in a contest that lasted  111-minute.

Carthage of Tunisia won bronze after overcoming El Shams of Egypt 3-2 (25-17, 31-29, 20-25, 17-25, 16-14) in the play offs.

Kenya Pipeline’s head of delegation Kasuja Onyonyi expressed his disappointment for not winning the match but showered praise on the girls for gallant effort throughout the competition.

“The girls gave their all but it was a truly difficult match. The crowd was very hostile and I commend the girls for at least getting a set from the game. We matched the opponents and lost by very small margins in three sets. It was a game that could have gone either way,” he said.

The Kenyan delegation is expected back in the country on Tuesday afternoon, and will report straight to camp at the Nyayo National Stadium to prepare for the All Africa Games qualifiers scheduled to begin on April 15-19 this month in Kampala, Uganda.