In Egypt, PRI of Kenya captured the Women's African Volleyball Clubs Championship, Ghada Abdel-Kader reports
Making its first appearance in the championship, Kenya PRI won the 2008 Women's African Volleyball Clubs Championship. MCA of Algeria won the silver medal while KCB, also of Kenya, took the bronze.
The 23rd edition of the event was held in Cairo from 25 April to 5 May. Seven countries and nine clubs participated. The teams were Kenyan teams Commercial Bank (KCB) and Prison (PRI), Algerian Mouloudia (MCA), Bafia Evolution (BVE) from Cameroon, Mafolofolo (MAF) from Botswana, Nkumba University (NUC) from Uganda and Canon De Ndjili from RD Congo. Ahli and Shams represented the host country. The matches were played at Abdullah Al-Faisal Hall in Ahli club.
"The final wasn't so smooth but I thank God we played a good match," Faridah Efumbi from PRI said. "Our team was founded only in 2005. Last year, we won the domestic league. This is the first time we participate in the championship, and we won."
"We prepared for this championship starting one month ago," KCB team manager David Kimosop said. "We expected to win but somehow in the semi-finals PRI took the game from us. They won but we won the finals, too. I dedicate my winning today to my country Kenya."
In the final, Prisons defeated Mouloudia 3-0 (25-19, 27-25, 25-23) in 1:19 minutes of thrilling action. Kenya Commercial Bank team beat Ahli 3-1 (25-20, 25-20, 23-25, 25- 14) in 1:39 minutes for third place. Prisons setter Wairumu Wacu and the left attacker Lydia Maiyo played a big role in the victory, the first with her marvellous setting and combinations by the net and the second with her unstoppable hits all through the match that made her the match scorer with 18 points.
Ahli came in fourth. Shams won fifth place -- they were fourth in 2007 -- getting past Bafia Evolution of Cameroon 3-0 (25-21, 25-12, 25-23) in 75 minutes.
Bafia finished sixth in their first participation in any African competition. VC Canon of RD Congo defeated Nkumba University of Uganda to end up in seventh place, leaving Nkumba in eighth. VC Canon defeated Nkumba University 3-0 (25-10, 25-22, 25-20) in 67 minutes. Canon controlled the match from the start through better reception and a solid block, while Nkumba suffered from a weak backline defence. Inoku Bofeyi was the star with her spikes and timing in blocks and was also the match scorer with 17 points.
President of the local organising committee Mohamed Abdel-Wahab said, "Ahli was the winner of the championship last year. We held a strong training camp for our team in Switzerland for 12 days this year. We tried to keep the title but our team was unlucky this time. Ahli was defeated due to lack of concentration of the players in the semi-final match because they had an eye on the final instead. In this championship the level of the teams was very high."
"Ahli entered the championship as the previous winner and organiser," said the director of the championship and manager of sports activities in Ahli Samir Abd Rabo. "The strange thing is that the teams which finished in first place played for third and fourth place while the teams in second place in their group played for the first and second positions.
"Ahli was defeated in this championship because the Kenyans have powerful physical bodies. The country also has five teams always competing in African championships," Abd Rabo said.
Kenyan teams are the most successful in the championship's history. KCB are five-time champions of the event and Ahli four times.
Nassima Benhamouda (MCA) was selected MVP.
Best spiker was Dorcas Ndasaba (KCB); Eman El-Nossiri (Ahli) was selected best attacker; best digger Sara Talaat (Ahli); best blocker Khisa Namukuru (PRI); best server Esther Ouna (KCB); best receiver Jerono Tarus (PRI); and best setter Fatima Oukazi (MCA).
The award was a crystal cup instead of the traditional medals.
Talaat had been named the best player for the past 10 years, "but this time the award [for digger] lost its flavour because we didn't win the title."