Pipeline eye Africa glory after reclaiming Kenyan league title

The African Volleyball Clubs Championship which will take place in April 2023

Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) has its sights set firmly on winning this year's African Volleyball Clubs Championship after claiming the 2021/2022 Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) National League title on Sunday.

KPC picked nine points from three matches to reclaim the title they last won in 2017. Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB), the reigning African Clubs Champions, finished second with five points while Kenya Prisons Service (KPS) and Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) both amassed two points to settle third and fourth respectively.

An emotional Gladys Ekaru holds back tears after Pipeline won the KVF National League title at Kasarani Indoor Arena. PHOTO | SAMUEL GACHARIRA

Both KPC and KCB had won their first two matches to head into Sunday’s title decider with six points and five points respectively. But after losing the first set on Sunday, Pipeline staged a remarkable comeback to win the next three for a 3-1 (18-25, 25-22, 25-19, 26-24) victory.

They had earlier beaten KPS and DCI in straight sets on Friday and Saturday respectively.

Kenya Pipeline coach Paul Gitau issues instructions from the touchline during their KVF National League play-offs match against KCB at Kasarani Indoor Arena. PHOTO | SAMUEL GACHARIRA

“Team work was the key for me. We did not play as well as we played the last two games. Experience is gotten through playing, it’s not something you can inject. In circumstances like this, it’s normal for players to be tense. We have won because of the effort of every individual in our team,” KPC coach Paul Gitau told FIVB.com.

“This is a turning point for this team. Now they know they are the champions, they have to believe in themselves,” he added.

National team players Gladys Ekaru and Agripina Kundu, who trained in Brazil for three months, as part of the FIVB Volleyball Empowerment Programme, in preparation for last year’s FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship, played a key role for KPC with the former settling the tense fourth set with a monster block.

Additionally, Gitau was impressed by the performance of youngsters Daisy Chepkorir, Pamela Adhiambo and Miriam Chelimo who aptly complemented the experienced pair of Rose Magoi and Trizah Atuka.

Kenya Pipeline outside hitter Pamela Adhiambo in action during their KVF National League play-offs match against KCB at Kasarani Indoor Arena. PHOTO | SAMUEL GACHARIRA

“For any team to beat Pipeline in the next three years, they will have to work very hard. These girls have become champions at 23 years. In two or three years these girls will be reliable players both at national team and club level,” said Gitau.

Just like he ended KPC’s five-year drought for the league title on Sunday, the veteran coach is now on a mission to conquer Africa and deliver the continental trophy they last won in 2005 in Nairobi.

“My aim in the next three months is to be in the final of that championship. If I win, I will be happy, if I become number two it will be an improvement from number three,” underlined Gitau who won bronze in last year’s edition behind KCB and Egyptian giants Al Ahly.

Kenyan clubs will take a short break before starting the 2022/23 league in early February and then beginning preparations for the African Clubs Championship scheduled for April.