It was all joy when the winners of the Africa Women’s Volleyball Club Championship 2022, KCB Bank, returned from Tunisia yesterday.
And this, after their historic victory 3-1 (25-18, 25-22, 11-25, 28-26) over eight-time Egyptian champions Al Ahly in the final on Tuesday.
It was a moment of excitement and relief at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport as they joined the traditional dancers who were there to greet them.
To achieve this memorable feat, the bankers had to wait 16 years.
The title victory was not just a relief for coach Japheth Munala and his team, but for the whole country after a nine-year trophy dearth for Kenyan clubs.
And it is for this reason that the current KCB squad will need at least one chapter when Kenyan volleyball history is written.
Kenya Pipeline, who won the bronze medal after beating dethroned holders Carthage Club of Tunisia 3-2 in the third-place qualifier and fifth-placed Prisons Kenya, also returned to the country yesterday.
Before reclaiming the title they first clinched in 2006, it was their quarter-final opponents Prisons Kenya, who won the last continental trophy for Kenya in 2013.
At first, no one had given KCB a chance and it even got complicated after a 3-1 defeat against Carthage in the group stage. But for Munala and his players, the defeat seems to have been a blessing in disguise as it prepared them for the battles ahead.
While it was the only continental trophy missing from his cabinet after losing 3-1 to Al Ahly in the 2016 final with his former club Kenya Pipeline, Malkia Strikers captain Mercy Moim was beyond grateful for inspiring the Bankers to their second title triumph. his return to the club.
“I didn’t manage to win this title with one of the best teams in Pipeline, but I’m grateful that I did it with KCB,” Munala said during the throwback party yesterday at KCB headquarters in Nairobi. .
“I am happy and proud of my players to have finally brought home the trophy after several near misses.
“I now feel motivated to work harder. Of course, we saw it coming and the defeat in Carthage helped us bond.
He continued, “Our goal was to go out there and put Kenya on the continental map. After conquering Africa, we came home, and I couldn’t be more proud of this team who showed resilience, hard work and teamwork throughout the competition.
Moim, who was named the tournament’s best left attacker, was part of the KCB team that won the title in 2006. She joined KCB in 2020 from the prisons of national champions alongside her current club captain Edith Wisa and Sharon Chepchumba.
Interestingly, Chepchumba and Wisa also won Kelibia’s Most Valuable Player and Best Blocker awards respectively.
“I was at KCB when we first won the championship and it happened again when I came back. Indeed, God is faithful,” Moim said.
Instrumental Chepchumba simply said, “I wanted to leave a mark on the tournament and I’m glad we did that as a team. As champions, we are not going to look back as we settle into our league.
“Victory is sweet. You just can’t put into words how amazing you feel, especially after such a tough competition. We have shown that it is possible if you work on it. I am proud of all my teammates and I would like to thank our technical bench for their prowess and advice which helped us win this prestigious title,” added captain Edith Wisa.
KCB Group CEO Paul Russo said: “After the long wait, pursuit and resilience, we have triumphed. This goes a long way in enhancing the legacy of Kenyan teams in global competitions.