Record books are expected to be torn and new pages rewritten when the 2016 Kenya Volleyball Federation National playoff serves off this Friday, November 25, in Mombasa.
Both Nairobi Water men and women’s are all in desperate search for their maiden national titles in Mombasa while a win for record champions General Service Unit (GSU) and Kenya Prisons will take them to 12th and fifth titles respectively.
Only Water men and women are yet to win the national title though Kenya Commercial Bank and Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) last won it close to a decade ago and will be all out to turn a new leaf of history page.
KPA may have booked their playoff berth on the last day of regular season, last month in Eldama Ravine but the dockers sent a strong signal at the tail end of the league with a sweet win over GSU in the Voi Open tournament. If they maintain this form which also saw them deny Kenya Defence Forces opportunity at this stage, then opponents should be ready to sweat profusely in a hot Mombasa weather at Makande.
KPA will be relying on coach cum player James Ontere who underwent a shoulder surgery this year, former GSU attacker Bernard Musumba though the availability of Oman based Evans Beta is not guaranteed.
Kenya Prisons last won this title two years ago and if their see-saw exchange of the trophy with GSU in the past eight years is anything to go by, then they would want to snatch it from Ruaraka and present it to Isaiah Oswago once more before his term as Commissioned of Prisons expires.
The urge to present this trophy at their headquarters saw Prisons management do a surgical change in their technical benches with promotion of David Lung’aho to the overall head coach for both men and women’s teams. This, plus early move to the indoor facility immediately after Ravine leg busts shows how important winning the trophy is to anyone in Green Barret.
Youthful setter Kevin Kipkosgei is coming up the rank and will be expected to give great support to Daniel Kiptoo while Silas Kipruto,veteran Ibrahim Oduor and Denis Mokua are some of the names opponent will have to look out for. Saul Omunyange is a doubt alongside Mike Chemos who returned to Europe for greener pastures though their places is likely to be filled easily.
Of course, GSU will be the team to beat in this unpredictable group whose winner is extremely hard to tell.
The Ruaraka side finished the season top of the table and are keen to add another national trophy to the 11 they’ve won since their promotion to top tier league in 1993.
GSU ruled the national stage from 2001-2008 where they went unchallenged for the national glory but if history is anything to go by, it is most likely they’ll surrender the national throne this year. Since 2008, GSU has never won a back-to-back, finishing second every subsequent year that they’ve lifted the title and it remains to be seen whether they’ll break that jinx.
In the women’s category, Lung’aho has an uphill tusk against record national champions, Kenya Pipeline even as he aims for a first title since 2013 and a record seventh on their 10th anniversary.
Prisons has been on a rollercoaster form this year, losing only once to their favourite title contenders, last month in Ravine. This coupled by the fact that they will have a full house following the return of captain Loice Jepkosgei and Everline Makuto from injury is expected to add a lot of weight on the other side of the pendulum.
Water may not have much history but they together with KCB are expected to give the two favourites a run for their money.