Reigning Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) Most Valuable Player Pamela Adhiambo and setter Esther Mutinda were on Monday dropped from the final national women’s volleyball team squad set to do duty in the FIVB Challenger Cup in France and the African Nations Championship in Cameroon.

Adhiambo played a crucial role to help Kenya Pipeline recapture the KVF title in January ending a five-year wait and she was also instrumental in May when the Oilers reached the final of the African Women’s Clubs Championship falling to Zamalek of Egypt.

Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) setter Veronica Kilabat and fast-rising libero Delphine Misoki of Kenya Prisons also failed to make the final team of 16 players.

Kenya Pipeline opposite hitter Loise Simiyu and left attacker Juliana Namutira from KCB, who earned their first call ups in May, made the final cut and are expected to don the Malkia Strikers shirt in the international scene for the first.

The 2023 African clubs best middle blocker Trizah Atuka, who has been absent from the national team since 2019 when she suffered a career-threatening knee injury which sent her on the sidelines for close to one year, was also drafted in the squad and will double up as the team’s assistant captain.

Also returning to the Malkia Strikers fold are; left attacker Leonida Kasaya, Kenya Pipeline captain Rose Magoi, who last donned the national team shirt in 2015 during the African Games in Congo Brazaville, and DCI left attacker Jemimah Siang’u.

Head coach Paul Bitok said other two players will be dropped after the High Performance Training Camp in Morocco before the team heads to France.

“It was not an easy task for the coaches to name the squad of 16 since the competition was very close between experienced and young players.           

“I do ask those who made it to  the list of 16 to continue working hard under the empowerment program  in the next 20 days in Morocco with seconded coaches from Brazil under coach Louizomar  because we shall again drop another 2 in Morocco before leaving for  France.”

He added: “Having worked with you for the last 4 years I believe the team is stronger and with your hard work and determination we shall come back with the African title in Cameroon. It was my wish to have all of you in the team but the rule limits us. I therefore request those who will make it to the last 14 to represent us well.”      

The Challenger Cup is scheduled for July 27-30 at the Espace Mayenne in Laval while the Africa Cup of Nations Championships serve off on August 6-18 in Cameroon.

Both competitions are also doubling up as qualifiers for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

The nine-time African champions, who have been in non-residential training at Nyayo Stadium, had experienced visa hitches which led to delays in their travel to Morocco for the month -long training camp.

The team leaves for the North African country in two batches with the first group of 12 players set to leave on Tuesday, while the last batch of four players and officials will depart on Thursday.

By Fred Odanga Azelwa.