Nigeria’s Women’s Volleyball team is gearing up for a showdown with Algeria on Thursday, vying for the fifth spot in the ongoing African Senior Women’s Nations Volleyball Championship in Yaounde.
In the 5th to 8th classification match held on Wednesday, the Nigerian team triumphed over Morocco with a decisive 3-0 victory (26-24, 25-21, 27-25), setting the stage for an exciting clash against Algeria, who had previously bested them in the same tournament.
To keep things fresh, Team Nigeria altered its starting lineup, featuring Aliyat Usman, Kelechi Ndukauba, Happy Wushilang, and Blessing Unkwe as the starters against Morocco.
In a remarkable display of skill, the young Nigerian side overcame a five-point deficit, clinching the first set with a score of 26-24. Coach Samuel Ajayi stuck with the same lineup for the second set, with Ijeoma Ukpabi and Happy Wushilang’s dynamic combination proving instrumental in dismantling the Moroccan opposition. The team secured a comfortable lead and sealed the set 25-21.
The third set saw Morocco leading at 24-22, but a powerful partnership between Aliyat Usman and Kelechi Ndukauba turned the tide, resulting in a tie at 24-24. Ijeoma Ukpabi secured Nigeria’s 25th point, and controversy arose when a referee’s decision followed Happy Wushilang’s spike. The score leveled at 25-25, and Aliyat Usman’s impressive drop shot edged Nigeria ahead at 26-25. The game concluded in favor of Nigeria, as Algeria’s fourth-position team saw the ball sail out of bounds due to an untimed spike.
An elated Samuel Ajayi expressed his satisfaction with the victory over Morocco, highlighting the team’s mindset after a disappointing outcome in the previous edition of the African Championship. He urged his players to seize their opportunity in the classification match, and they delivered on his expectations.
Ajayi emphasized that the players handled the game against Morocco without feeling the pressure. He recounted a strategic timeout during the first set, where he directed the team’s focus, and the players responded to his guidance both on the court and in their attentive response to his instructions.
Reflecting on past mistakes, particularly the Algeria match during the group stage, Ajayi was confident that the team had learned from its errors. He aimed to reassert Nigeria’s dominance in the 5th position match and assured that the team would approach it with seriousness and determination, looking forward to a successful outcome.
The highly anticipated match between Nigeria and Algeria for the fifth position is scheduled for 10 a.m.