Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Ladies Volleyball national team cruises through to the Africa Games; Men stutter

It was the case of same script, same characters for Botswana Volleyball senior national teams, as the local ladies team cruised to the Africa Games while the men stuttered to qualify. In scenes reminiscent of the past Zone VI Africa Games qualifiers, local ladies dominated the region while Botswana men’s dominance continued on a freefall. While the local ladies comfortably swept all before them, games and individual prizes, the men struggled against what was by all means considered weak opposition.

The local ladies started their campaign with a convincing 3 ÔÇô 1 victory over Zimbabwe on Tuesday before beating Zambia 3 ÔÇô 0 to set up an exciting match to decide the Zone VI qualifier winners with Mozambique, who were also undefeated in their matches against Zambia and Zimbabwe. Contrary to expectations that this would be a tight affair between two undefeated sides, it was in fact a one lopsided match as Botswana ladies romped to an easy 3 ÔÇô 0 victory over Mozambique in just one hour and eleven minutes.

Botswana ladies needed just twenty-two minutes to win the first set 25 ÔÇô 16, twenty four minutes to win the second set 25 ÔÇô 17 and just twenty five minutes to wrap the last set 25 ÔÇô 20, all with ease. With the Africa Games spot now secured, the local girls will now turn their attention to the Africa Championships later this year. In his post tournament comment, the Botswana ladies national team coach, Isaac Samuel said the ladies will use the African Champions as preparatory games for the Africa Games.

Samuels expressed his happiness at how the local girls had won with ease, saying they had played according to instructions, more especially against Mozambique. With the games having given him an insight as to where his team’s strengths and weaknesses reside, Samuel said the team will now focus on improving where they need to and the hopes are that the Africa Champions will give them a chance to gauge their improvement. Where the local ladies had won with ease, it was different in the men’s section where Botswana came second to Mozambique. Despite winning the first two games against Zimbabwe and Zambia 3 ÔÇô 1 apiece, Botswana men were not convincing. While Botswana coach Manuel Torres had, in his post match comments after the first game, opined that he is hoping the team would improve, it was not to be as local men continued to fail in their blocks and serve against their regional opponents from the region.

Against athletic and agile players such as Zimbabwe’s Choto Rufaro, Zambia’s Steven Kabongo as well Mozambique’s Soares Delcio, Botswana struggled to block, and gave away many free points against their opponents. Against Zimbabwe and Zambia in particular, Botswana had to call on Agisanang Kurwana, who was a substitute, to pull them through as they failed to defend without him. It was with this in mind that Kurwana was forced to play the entire final game against Mozambique despite an injury, something which Coach Torres acknowledged. Against a Delcio led Mozambique outfit, Botswana struggled and lost the game 3 ÔÇô 0.

The local lads lost the first set 23 ÔÇô 25, the second set 15 ÔÇô 25 and the final set 23 ÔÇô 25. In his post match comments, Torres admitted that the local men had struggled against their much quicker opponents as well as struggled with their block and serve. For his part, Botswana men’s captain Shadreck Kapeko acknowledged that the country had struggled. He said from now forward, the country will need to start rebuilding if they are to reclaim their dominance in the region. Meanwhile, Botswana ladies swept all individual awards at the just ended Zone VI qualifiers.

Tracy Chaba won three accolades, being the Most Valuable Player (MVP), Best Server and Best Spiker, while Kelebogile Mahupela, Tsholofelo Retshabile and Gabaresepe Mashaole won the Best Setter, Best Blocker and Best Libero respectively. In the men’s individual honours, the Most Valuable Player and Best Spiker went to Zimbabwe’s Rufaro. Mozambique’s Simione Belton won Best Blocker, Best Libero went to Zambia’s Mwandu Chindima while Botswana’s duo of Kurwana and Tjiyapo Madeluka won Best Server and Best Setter respectively.


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