VOLLEYBALL. KAVC bounced back from 2-0 down in the finals to beat Rwanda league champions Gisagara 3-2 in front of a partisan crowd.
Kampala Amateur Volleyball Club (KAVC) exports Daudi Okello and Cuthbert Malinga stood out as the hosts won the men’s NSSF-KAVC International for the first time since 2011.The Europe-based duo belatedly joined camp but quickly bedded in , playing nearly every minute of KAVC’s five games at the 22nd edition of this championship held over the weekend at MTN Arena – Lugogo.
KAVC bounced back from 2-0 down in the finals to beat Rwanda league champions Gisagara 3-2 in front of a partisan crowd on Sunday.
Gisagara seemed to rediscover their mojo in the decisive set but could not help themselves remonstrating over the umpire’s decisions that did not go their way. KAVC had their qualms too but left protests to their fans.
Eventually umpire Calvin Male, who kept composed in that charged atmosphere, dished out a red card to Gisagara as they led 9-13. That was the turning point as KAVC won 17-15.
“We are so lucky to have won this one, it was a game of men and we have defended our country,” Malinga said in the midst of deafening celebrations.
KAVC had done it the hard way, breaking the over-emphasized Rwanda dominance in this tourney on their own. The hosts’ started with a 3-0 win over locals Sport-S but after that it was Rwandan opposition all-the way.
Their second pool match was a 3-1 loss to Rwanda’s University of Tourism (UTB) that gave a feeling of déjà vu as it set up a quarterfinal with Rwanda Electrification Group (REG).
REG were swept 3-0. The reward was defending champions APR in the semis. KAVC were leading 2-1 when the lights failed on Saturday night.
Unfortunately, APR setter Eric Mwizere learnt of the death of his brother back home and abandoned the ship without a plan B that night. KAVC won the replay 3-0 on Sunday.
Ndejje pip Nkumba
In the ladies’ final, Ndejje University beat an out-of-sorts Nkumba University 3-1 to clinch their first title in this tournament.
“This is a huge triumph for us. That we did it after beating RRA (2017 champions) in the pools and Nkumba, the champions of Rwanda Genocide Memorial, makes it even bigger,” Ndejje coach Johnson Kawalya, said.
Ndejje were impeccable in blocking and attacking with strength while the weary Nkumba lacked bite having won a five-set semifinal against defenders APR.
“You sometimes need to reflect or sleep over a win against a big team. Maybe a little more rest could have worked for us but Ndejje were excellent,” Nkumba coach Tony Lakony, said.