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Falling short in the mountains

Baitshepi Sekgweng
SILVER SENSATIONS: Kutlwano (white) rose up to claim second

Kutlwano’s Silver sole reason to smile in Lesotho

The just-ended Zone VI Interclub Volleyball Championships in the mountains of Lesotho featured several lows and precious few highs for the BW teams that made the ill-fated journey to Maseru.

With Police VI dropping out at the last moment, local hopes lay with: Kutlwano, Mag-Stimela, BDF VI, Spiking Stars in both the men’s and ladies sections, while University of Botswana-Yaros sent a men’s team and Mafolofolo their female side.

Out of the ten, only Kutlwano and Mafolofolo ladies emerged with any credit, finishing second and fourth.

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Marking their return to the eight-nation regional tournament after a four-year absence, Kutlwano made up for lost time, exceeding expectations to reach the final, where they lost 3-0 to Mozambique’s, UPM.

Drawn in Pool D against: Green Buffaloes, Namibia Navy, Scorpions, Blue Eagles and UZ Wolves, ‘Big House’ cruised to the quarters, winning all five of their matches and dropping just two sets.

Falling short in the mountains
FINAL STANDINGS: Apart from Kutlwano and Mafolofolo, the table makes for grim reading for BW

They were perfect in both the quarters and the semis, dispatching first Correctional Sunrise (eSwatini) and then Academica de Maputo (Mozambique) in straight sets.

Their excellent run came to an emphatic end when faced with UPM’s experience and power.

Reflecting on a successful week-and-a-half in the Lesotho capital, Coach Shadrack Modiakgotla told Voice Sport he was proud of his troops for rising to the occasion after a tough year domestically.

“The ladies team played well because we gave them some special attention after a dismissal performance through the year. The ladies’ team consists of both experienced and inexperienced players, with half the side under the age of 23. So we actually wanted to expose them to high-level volleyball after missing it for the last four years. We finished in a good position; as coaches, we wanted to win, but we knew our limitations in terms of experience and inactivity in local volleyball. We knew we would fall short when it came to individual tactics and resilience as most of the starting players were new to the game. We know our level so we just needed to put the players in the right physical and mental state.”

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Credit to Mafolofolo who lost out to the eventual winners 3-1 in a hard-fought semi-final, before falling 3-2 to Academia in the loser’s final.

Falling short in the mountains
DOWN: The locals found the going tough

As for the men, BDF’s 14th place finish (out of 22) was the best anyone could manage.

“The standard of men has declined a lot with the absence of school sports contributing heavily as there are no new players in men’s game. The school sport is a good catchment area, and authorities should make sure it’s brought back. Otherwise, the impact is going to make a huge negative destruction that will cripple Botswana sport for a very long time. We appreciate that other teams have improved, but we have heavily declined. We need constant volleyball activities, lure sponsors to the game but that is possible when there is action,” reasoned Modiakgotla on the BW males’ dismal showing.

With the next edition to be hosted by Botswana in December 2024, it represents a perfect chance for BW’s best to bounce back.

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