By Oscar Pilipili
Kenya Pipeline beat Forces Armee et Police (FAP) of Cameroon in straight 3-0 sets of 25-20, 25-17 and 25-7 to qualify for the final in CAVB African Women’s Clubs Championships in Nairobi.
This means either Kenya Prisons or Pipeline will be carrying the continent’s flag at the World Clubs Championships to be staged in Doha, Qatar in October.
It is the second year in a row for Pipeline to play in the continental final after falling to current defending champions Kenya Prisons at Nazarene University in the finals last season.
The semi-final between Pipeline and Police started on a competitive note with each team fighting to gain control of the proceedings at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on Thursday. Ruth Jepngetich and Roseline Adhiambo used well their height advantage to block Asta Gamkoua and Mbessa Aboa net attacks as hosts raced to 6-3 lead in opening stages of the first set.
Police gained successive points with good play by Mballa and Oyongo Embigue to narrow the gap to 7-5 but a quick attack by Odhiambo handed Pipeline 8-5 lead at technical time out. Two net attacks by Moma Basoko and Pipeline’s error brought a tie at 8-8.
Police attacked from all positions but Pipeline responded with characteristic powerful spikes from Asha Makuto, Esther Wangeshi and perfect defensive play of libero Mildred Odwako helped the host team steady the ship to maintain three points lead at second technical time out. Police caught up wit Pipeline at 19-19 but two successive points by Jepngetich saw Pipeline take a 23-19 lead. The home team held on gallantly to win 25-20.
Quick points including an error by Pipeline saw Police take 4-1 lead and 6-4 in the early stages of the second set. This caused panic on Pipeline bench prompting coach Japheth Munala to rest Jepngetich for Emily Chemutai.
The changes did little to stop the hard-hitting Cameroonians who raced to lead 8-5. The introduction of Janet Wanja improved Pipeline’s game as they rallied to level the points at 8-8. Makuto and Wanja then picked up points to see Pipeline open lead 14-11. Two more points off Wanja’s service handed Pipeline 16-11 lead.
Police fought hard to come back into the match but a combination of skilful play by Wanja, Jepngetich and Catherine Wanjiru helped to tame FAP as Pipeline extend the lead to 21-13 and held on to win 25-17.