The Kenya Pipeline technical bench has opted to forfeit the opening round of the National Volleyball League on March 8, to prepare for the upcoming Women’s African Club Championships in Cairo, Egypt.
The 2017 champions who were dethroned in 2018 by their bitter rivals Kenya Prisons have been training at the Kasarani Indoor Gymnasium since mid last month sharpening their receiving and serving skills.
Under the tutelage of new coach, Esther Jepkosgei, the seven-time club champions will begin their new season in the second round after they compete at the regional championship that serves off on March 16.
“We can’t play in an outdoor competition and then travel to Egypt to compete in an indoor competition, we will have to just start our season from the second round,” Jepkosgei explained to Citizen Digital on the sidelines of their training session on Wednesday, February 27.
Pipeline were scheduled to play Kenya Prisons and KDF on March 8, eight days before the start of the clubs championship.
The regional championships will be a litmus test for Jepkosgei. She is a former Kenyan international and took the reigns late last year replacing Japheth Munala who moved to KCB. Pipeline also lost seven key players prompting the current technical bench to source for talent elsewhere; drafting four new players to replace part of the seven that left last year, acquiring the services of former Kwathanze High School stars Esther Mutinda, Alice Ekaru and Betty Sifuna. Pipeline also managed to snap up former Kenya Prisons left attacker Sharon Chepchumba.
“We lost two left attackers but at least we now have Sharon, she’s good. We wanted taller setters and Esther Mutinda fits that role perfectly,” she said.
The new acquisitions have spent a significant period of time adapting to the Kenya Pipeline philosophy with their debut in Cairo imminent.
“I think in terms of the game, they are mature enough; they are good already, we are now working on gelling with them to ensure they can bond with the other members and ensure they are able to maintain their performance,” Captain Trizah Atuka told Citizen Digital.
Pipeline last tasted continental glory in 2005 when they edged current champions Al-ahly in the final by three straight sets. In 2018 they edged Kenya Prisons in the bronze final; their sights are firmly set on reclaiming their lost glory
“I believe in myself and I believe in my players,” Jepkosgei said.
“We are not looking at any particular team being strong and weak, we are focusing on our game,” Atuka added.
The team is expected to depart next week for North Africa.
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