Nairobi — Kenya's quest for a record 10th African title fell flat on its tracks on Sunday night after losing by three sets to one to defending champions Cameroon at the Kigali Arena in Rwanda.
The Malkia Strikers had earlier lost by straight sets to the Central Africans and couldn't lay revenge in the final, despite forcing the game to a fourth set.
The Kenyan girls had lost 25-21 and 25-23 in the first two sets before rallying for a 25-15 win in the third set. However, they could not complete the comeback as they fell short in the fourth set, losing 25-23.
Sharon Chepchumba, duly named best attacker in the tournament scored a game high 21 points with four aces, but her contribution wasn't enough for Paul Bitok's girls.
Gladys Ekaru's injury in the third set seemed to have undone Kenya as they couldn't hold momentum after her exit. She had already done five blocks for the Malkia Strikers and was also named best blocker in the tournament.
Skipper Mercy Moim was named best receiver.
After whitewashing Morocco in straight sets in the semis, Kenya entered the final with a beam of confidence. However, they had a false start, trailing 8-6 at the first Technical Time Out.
The two-point gap was maintained by the second TTO and the Cameroonians went on to boss the game to win the set by a four point margin.
Bitok's girls were slightly improved and led 8-5 and 16-12 in the first and second TTO's respectively. However, Cameroon rallied, maximising on Kenya's poor reception in the back court and moved to tie the game at 19-19.
Cameroon rallied to lead 23-21 before ultimately stretching away to a 25-23 win.
Learning from mistakes in the second set, Malkia were better in the third. They led 8-5 and 16-10 at the first and second TTOs. There was no turning back for Bitok's girls as they kept their momentum this time, perfecting on the blocks and services to win the set.
Into the fourth set, hope was abound that they could complete the comeback. However, service errors and Ekaru's absence on the blocks were Kenya's main undoing especially in the business end of the set.
Despite leading 16-15 at the second TTO, Kenya gave away points on both ends of their court as Cameroon rallied to lead 22-20 and ultimately won the set 25-23.