Zone V tournament provided perfect platform to gauge Ugandan volleyball

Sport-S line up for a team photo during the CAVB Zone V Volleyball Club Championship in Kigali, Rwanda. PHOTO/EMANZI NDYAMUHAKI 

What you need to know:

The two sides that won the National Volleyball League last season, Sport-S Volleyball Club and KCCA Women’s Volleyball Club, made the trip across the border to carry the Ugandan flag and face off with the best of Zone V.

When this year’s CAVB Zone V Volleyball Club Championship served off inside the BK Arena in Kigali, Rwanda, Uganda was represented by two teams.

The two sides that won the National Volleyball League last season, Sport-S Volleyball Club and KCCA Women’s Volleyball Club, made the trip across the border to carry the Ugandan flag and face off with the best of Zone V.

The tournament had last been held in 2019 and the 2023 edition attracted 11 teams, six in the men’s category and five in the women’s.

And by the end of the tournament, Sport-S were understandably the toast of Ugandans following their emphatic journey to the final, which ended in defeat, a 3-1 victory handing Rwanda National Police the trophy in front of a partisan home crowd.

Sport-S impress

One thing the two Ugandan sides had in common was uncertainty as to whether they would make it to the tournament or not. Both Sport-S and KCCA confirmed their trip with a few days to the start of the event.

In fact, KCCA arrived Monday night and were required to play the first game of the tournament on Tuesday.

Back to Sport-S. The Ugandan champions travelled with 10 first team players and added setter Rabin Banzuma and middle blocker Mustapha Mulondo from Sport-S Tigers to make the numbers.

Libero John Bosco Thembo only arrived in Kigali on Friday, a few hours to the team’s semifinal match with Kepler due to work commitments.

Players like Johnson Rukundo, Moses Odeke and Julius Nuwahereza could not make the trip due to work schedules while Augustine Odongo remains a long-term absentee with injury.

Head coach Benon Mugisha’s options were limited and he barely made changes to the first team, which was lifted by the addition of UCU Doves’ receiver-attacker Gideon Angiro.

Slow starts and major comebacks were the order of the day for Sport-S, who had to come from a set down to defeat Kepler 3-1 in their first game and from two sets down to force a decisive and beat Police in the other group encounter.

Thon Maker, Jonathan Tumukunde, Samuel Engwau, Nicholas Agaba and Angiro all impressed and attracted the attention of several clubs in the end.

Due to the format of play employed, the Ugandan champions ended up facing only two teams throughout the tournament, Kepler and Police, winning three of the four matches played to leave the stage with silver and $2,000.

Reality check for KCCA

If there is one thing KCCA realised at the tournament, it is the fact that they will need to beef up the team before taking part in the CAVB African Club Championship next year.

The women’s competition, eventually won by Kenya Pipeline, only attracted five teams from three countries, with the champions and KCCA as the only ones from outside Rwanda.

In a round robin format employed, KCCA played four matches and lost all in straight sets to miss out on any further action.

And the results painted the proper picture of the situation Shilla Omuriwe’s charges are in.

A lack of bite on offence, short block and inability to execute when the stakes are high were all seen in Kigali.

Even in sets where the Ugandan champions led and looked destined to clinch them, something went wrong and they ended up letting them slip out of their hands.

Beyond Joan Tushemereirwe, Omuriwe lacked the brute and height required in attack against a solid block, with Margaret Namyalo and Shamim Nalukabwe both struggling.

In the absence of injured captain Eunice Amuron, KCCA lacked options in the receiver-attacker department and will have to go into the market for reinforcement before the championship.

More work needed

Amongst the challenges faced by Ugandan teams was going up against good servers, who pace the ball and make the first pass difficult for the opponent.

Both Kepler and Police employed the same tactic and troubled Sport-S’ reception in all the games while on the other hand, the Ugandan side went for the cautious floaters to get the ball over the net and count on their block.

More often than not, the opposition first pass was perfect for the setter to explorer his options and leave Sport-S in a spot of bother.

If there was anything to pick from the two teams faced in Kigali, it is the need to perfect the jump serve and improve net defence.

And these are lessons teams pick up after facing off with stronger opposition than what is available in the local league.


CAVB Zone V Volleyball Club Championship


W -Kenya Pipeline

M -Rwanda National Police


W -Rwanda Revenue Authority

M -Sport-S