- It’s Chepchumba's sudden rise that caught the volleyball world by surprise having changed positions from outside hitter to opposite just recently
Kasaya is staking a claim for a first team place having returned an impressive 72 points despite her contribution being limited to a substitute's role
With the Continental Olympics qualifier set for January 6 to 12 next year in Cameroon, the young blood have limited time to fight for a place in the team
Kenya's performance at last month's FIVB World Cup in Japan gave an indication of potential of youthful players if given a chance to compete at international level.
The excellent performance of youngsters in Japan served a timely reminder to Kenya women volleyball team coaches that they should not shy away from taking risks going forward.
Among the young players who impressed is Sharon Chepchumba who was ranked 24th out of 145 on the top scorers' chart. Leonida Kasaya, Lorine Chebet and Caroline Sirengo also proved their worth every time they stepped on court.
But it’s Chepchumba's sudden rise that caught the volleyball world by surprise having changed positions from outside hitter to opposite just recently.
It's an experiment that started with Shaileen Ramdoo during the Inter Continental Olympics qualifier in Catania, Italy in August and worked perfectly for Paul Bitok in the African Games and World Cup last month.
In Japan, Chepchumba emerged as Kenya's top scorer with 102 points from 94 attacks, four blocks and four serves.
The opposite position has previously been a preserve for two left handed players, Violet Makuto and Emmaculate Chemtai but if Chepchumba's exploits at the World Cup is anything to go by then the technical bench will look no further. Chepchumba, who is not 21 until October 26, seems to have cemented her place and something will have to give.
“Her strength is in attack and that’s why we changed her from outside hitter to opposite to reduce the pressure on her in terms of reception. She has great potential and this is the right time for her to turn professional. With international exposure, she can be among the top ten opposites in the world,” said Bitok during the World Cup.
Part of the reorganisation under both Ramdoo and Bitok has seen Makuto redeployed as a middle blocker to accommodate her talents in attacking and blocking. But it's the upcoming duo of Chebet (20) and Sirengo (21) who provide more viable options beyond Trizah Atuka (27) and Edith Wisa (25) in that position.
While Wisa and Atuka have come of age having contributed 65 and 42 points respectively at the World Cup, Chebet is proving a worthy back-up for the pair as Kenya Pipeline's Gladys Ekaru and Sirengo continue knocking at the door.
Similarly, Kasaya is staking a claim for a first team place having returned an impressive 72 points despite her contribution being limited to a substitute's role.