What happened to 2022 National Volleyball League finalists?

Sport-S' Samuel Engwau strikes through the OBB block /COURTESY PICTURE

VOLLEYBALL What happened to 2022 National Volleyball League finalists?

Ndyamuhaki J Emanzi 15:33 - 24.04.2023

Departures of some key players from the previous season left Nemostars with holes to fill, and the replacements were simply not good enough.

The finalists for the 2022 National Volleyball League are now known and ready to start their three-game series in search of silverware.

The Sport-S family has continued to be the most excelling franchise of the season, with two of their teams set to feature in the finals.

Sport-S Men defeated defending champions OBB 2-1 to progress to the finals and will go up against the UCU Doves in what is expected to be a mouth-watering contest.

The Doves are the only team to have defeated Benon Mugisha’s side in the regular season and will pause a threat in the finals.

Elias Isiagi’s charges overcame five-time champions KAVC 2-1 after cruising 3-0 in Game Three on Sunday night at the Old Kampala Arena.

In the women’s final, the Sport-S Ladies will be in search of a first-ever league title against KCCA Ladies.

The journey to the final was a smooth ride for Malic Damulira’s side, cruising past OBB Queens in straight games to get some rest as KCCA battled with Ndejje in the decider.

KCCA’s 3-1 win in Game Three did not only send the Kasasiro Girls to the finals, but it also confirmed that no finalist from last season would return to the finals this year.

What happened?

Two of the runners-up from last season could not even make it past the regular season and into the playoffs.

Nemostars won 10 games and lost eight to finish fifth on the log, just outside the playoffs places and will have to wait for next season.

Departures of some key players from the previous season left Andrew Okapis’ charges with holes to fill, and the replacements were simply not good enough.

Jonathan Tumukunde, Emmanuel Elanyu and Barnabus Tugume are some of the key players who left the team after last year’s finals.

Meanwhile, the men’s champion OBB, could not return to the finals after falling to Sport-S in the semis.

In a season filled with ups and downs for the Iganga-based outfit, it will be remembered for the number of times the team changed coaches.

Yahya Waguma became the third coach after filling the shoes left by Johnson Kawenyera towards the end of the season.

Kawenyera had replaced Luke Eittit, whose reign at the club lasted two months.

It was Lawrence Yakan who won the league last season but parted ways with the club after failing to land the National Club Championship.

In the women’s division, champions Ndejje fell short due to changes at the start of the season and midway through it.

The club needed more time to replace Moreen Mwamula, Faith Magole and Jesca Kaidu after the trio crossed to OBB towards the start of the new season.

And having formed the core of the team that won the league, the trio was clearly missed as the Elites attempted to defend the title.

The team also lost one of its long-serving players Christine Alupo before the playoffs. The middle blocker left the country for further studies while head coach Ronald Kitosi was also moving to Germany for a coaching course.

Ultimately, the team had Catherine Ainembabazi as the primary source of offence, and the moment KCCA stopped her, Ndejje had no one else to turn to.

Meanwhile, losing finalists, VVC will be playing in the lower division next season.

Having lost players like Joan Tushemereirwe and Catherine Ainembabazi, the team flirted with relegation all season, and their 2-12 record condemned them to Serie B volleyball next season.

The 2014 champions must now fight to return to the top division.