The volleyball die is cast on the women’s Mascom Volleyball League as the top two sides, Kutlwano and Mafolofolo, clash in what certainly is a make or break affair for the latter. By the end of this weekend, the direction of this season’s league title may be declared especially if the result goes in the favour of defending champions Kutlwano.
The grueling women’s league season is played in four rounds and at the halfway stage with only two rounds to go, Kutlwano have triumphed over their nemesis in the first two albeit with close margins. Thus a win for the black and white outfit on Saturday will close once and for all, the debate on who the winner of this year’s league between the two clubs will be. To set up an intriguing battle that will go down to the wire, Mafolofolo ought to beat Kutlwano this weekend, and also do that when the two sides clash again for the last of their four season meetings. As it is, Kutlwano are on pole position a 100 percent record having lost no single match so far.
Mafolofolo on the other hand have lost two matches both to Kutlwano with score lines of 3-1 in the first season quarter and a close 3-2 in their second meeting. The first two encounters were played at the Lobatse Sports Complex Hall in a space of a week, but this time the battleground for their third meeting has shifted to Sebele in Gaborone, where the epic match will conclude a series of five matches scheduled to start at 9am at the Botswana College of Agriculture Hall this Saturday. For over three decades now, the two sides have dominated the volleyball women’s competitions as they have taken turns in winning the various volleyball cup and league matches played since the early 80s. Nothing has changed since then, although of late Kutlwano have been the more dominant of the sides. In their first encounter of this year, Kutlwano used their strong serves to subdue their opponents who could not return the balls to their own setter for an offensive of their own. Thus Mafolofolo found it difficult to score and stand up against their superior opponents on the day.
It had been Kutlwano’s strategy against clubs that have offensive power, a thing that has seen their opponents offer little in retaliatory play at the net. Yet Mafolofolo were able to effectively counter this strategy when the two sides met again for the second quarter. The gold and black outfit was able to put up a brave fight that saw Kutlwano narrowly win the encounter 3-2. Now they meet again on the backdrop of their recent sojourn in Congo where the two sets of players combined to form a Botswana national team that won three of their five group matches at the All Africa Games. The team failed to proceed to the knockout stages but the invaluable experience the players got there should be on display on Saturday when they now trade shots from opposite sides. At the All Africa Games, they were accompanied by their two coaches Isaac Samuel and Kabo Ntshinogang who played the roles of Head Coach and Assistant Coach respectively.
Mafolofolo’s national team stars Game Rakgabo, Lizzy Gasekgonwe, Tsholofelo Retshabile, Chada Majaha as well as setters Kelebogile Mahupela and Priscilla Nthaga will be complemented by Taboka Tema and Tsholofelo Oganne and their coach Ntshinogang in trying to stop Kutlwano running away with the title while there are still 11 games to play. However, Samuel at Kutlwano has an arsenal of national team players of his own to help set the record straight and prove they are the best in the business. The said star players include Daisy Golekanye, Caroline Rogers, Karabo Molefha, Thapelo Kamberuka, Tracy Chaba and Tebogo Sejewe. It thus is set to be a strong battle of players who just a few weeks ago were training together as a team under the watch of their respective coaches. Should Mafolofolo let their opponents off the hook, it could be the end of their title ambitions as Kutlwano can thus afford to lose one of their remaining matches and still amass an unassailable lead.
Before this marquee clash that begins at 1700hrs, there will be four other matches featuring other Mascom Volleyball League sides Kalavango, Dynamites and Spiking Stars. Kalavango play their first match against Stars at 0900hrs in a match the former should easily win in straight sets. It will be Kalavango’s first match without their former star player Lizzy who left the club over the winter transfer window to rejoin Mafolofolo. Conversely, the hard-hitting Lizzy will play her first match for her new team at 1100hrs when they test Dynamites’ resolve in another fixture that has always been dominated by Mafolofolo since the two teams played for the first time on May 22 in 2005. Kutlwano will then take on Stars at 1300hrs before Kalavango battle it out with Dynamites at 1500hrs. Kalavango will once again face their former development player Moitlamo Nkobedi who also quit the club for game time at Dynamites during the past transfer window. The 17-year old Nkobedi has so far played three games for her new club, and she has helped the club win all of them.