Kenya's libero Tarus
Tokyo, November 1, 2006: Pool A surprise team Chinese Taipei followed up their historic victory over Japan on the opening night with a hard-fought 3-0 win against Kenya on Wednesday afternoon.
The world No. 23 beat the 11th-ranked African Queens 25-13, 25-9, 29-27 on their third match point to improve their win-loss record to 2-0 and drop Kenya to 0-2.
Kenya called the first TO of the match when trailing 7-3 in the first set. Chinese Taipei had taken the early initiative at the net through mobile middle blockers Lin Chun Yi and Chen Mei Ching, and this was clearly a concern for Kenya's Japanese tactician Sadatoshi Sugawara.
Kenya's experienced captain, Dorcas Ndasaba, led the fightback with a couple of sizzling spikes on the left, and the back-court defence of Lydiah Maiyo brought stability to the Africans' play. Maiyo also joined the attack to devastating effect as Kenya began to settle down.
Chinese Taipei, however, were brimming with confidence and energy after their opening night demolition of Japan, and captain Chen Shu Li drove her team forward with a series of eye-catching winners at the peak of her elegant leap.
When a low serve from Lin Chun Yi caught out libero Judith Tarus to make the score 18-8, Sugawara brought his team off again as the opening frame began to disappear over the horizon.
This break seemed to affect the concentration of the Chinese Taipei players, allowing Brackcides Khadambi to reduce Kenya's deficit with a couple of service winners.
Captain Chen, who had briefly lost her sparkle, was taken out with her team ahead 20-13, but Lin Chun Yi continued the good work at the net to close out the first set 25-13.
Chinese Taipei maintained their fast pace in the second set, and reached the first TTO ahead by four at 8-4. Kou Nai Han had been quiet up to this point, but now began to make her presence felt in attack as well as defence.
The Kenyan attack had been firing on all cylinders against Poland the previous day, but on this occasion was stifled by the Chinese Taipei blockers, supported by alert digging behind them. Libero Szu Hui Fang was in particularly fine form, with her expert positioning making the job look easy.
Kenya began to crumble midway through the second set, and a tame serve from left-handed Wu Hisao Li was good enough to give Chinese Taipei a nine-point lead, 16-7, at the second TTO. Chinese Taipei romped from 16-9 to 25-9 with nine consecutive points to make it 2-0.
Ndasaba tried to lift her team in the third set, and the Kenyans showed much more fight and energy to lead 8-6 at the first TTO. A block by Leonidas Kamende fired up the Kenyans even more, and a shell-shocked Chinese Taipei took a TO trailing 12-7.
Doris Palang'a and Kou then exchanged a pair of ferocious spikes, but Kenya reached the second TTO ahead by two, 16-14. Brilliant defence from Kenya libero Tarus kept her team ticking, but Chinese Taipei won it 29-27 on their third match point with a block after saving two set points in a tense finish.