Kenya were made to work as they overcame Rwanda 3-1 (25-23, 23-25, 25-22, 25-19) on Thursday when the 2016 women's under-23 African Nations Championship ended at the Safaricom Indoor Arena.
The result placed Kenya second behind Egypt with both teams securing qualification for the world championships to be held in Slovenia next year.
Kenya coach Catherine Mabwi stuck with the same line up that convincingly beat Senegal on Tuesday. Kenya led 5-4 after a nervy opening minutes with Kenya Prison's Yvonne Sinaida using her height to block effectively.
Setter Veronica Kibalat was in top form executing lovely set ups for towering Ann Lowem to finish off with Kenya leading 8-6. Rwanda came back into the match to trail 8-10.
Poor reception by Doreen Marani gifted Rwanda two points in succession as Kenya trailed 11-15 and 14-19 prompting Mabwi to call a timeout.
Mabwi had seen enough and introduced captain Pauline Wafula who had not featured since the opening game. She was instrumental as Kenya rallied back to tie the scores at 19-19.
Kenya led 23-22 through Wafula's clever intervention before Grace Niyigena's error gifted Kenya a 25-23 set win.
The second set saw a repeat of the first with the game tightly contested at 13-11 in favour of Kenya. There was blow for Kenya as their best left attacker Yvonne Wavinya injured her hand as she misjudged her spike and was unable to continue.
Her replacement Wafula, still visibly not fully recovered from her ankle injury put in a good shift as Kenya led 16-13. A mix up between Sinaida and Kilabat gave Rwanda the all important point to tie the game at 1-1 from their 25-23 set win.
Determined Wavinya came back
A determined and seemingly injured Wavinya came back into the match to inspire Kenya as they broke down the stubborn Rwandese 25-22 in the third set with youngster Lea Uwimbabazi's weak reception giving Kenya the final point.
Wavinya was ruthless with successive spikes as Kenya led 13-6 and stretched it to 19-8 in the fourth set as Rwanda players appeared fatigued.
"It was a difficult match for us but I am happy with the result today. The loss to Egypt made this a must win for us. The players were able to listen to instructions especially in the fourth set. Our captain Wafula had passion and played while still injured so it showed her commitment to lead the team. We plan to go back to the drawing board and prepare a good team so that we are ready for the world championships," coach Mabwi said after the match.
"We are disappointed but all in all the girls gave a good account of themselves. They have gained valuable experience which is a plus for them," Rwanda coach Paul Bitok said.
In an earlier match, Egypt powered past Botswana with a 3-0 straight sets victory of 25-16, 25-10, 25-19 to finish in the unrivalled pole position with 12 points from four wins.
There was a gulf in class from the go with Egypt led by Ahmed Aya, Nada Meawad and Doaa Abdelghany displaying brilliant blocking and spiking ability as they rushed to a 8-2 lead.
Botswana coach Isaac Thengelani called for an early timeout and introduced Tshiamo Chakalisa who was delivering quality service balls as they narrowed the gap to 8-12.
Egypt coach Ahmed Mohammed brought in captain Farida Elaskalany and the middle blocker hit a couple of forehand spikes to inspire them to a 22-13 lead.
Egypt's left attacker Morsy Mariam with a vicious hit sealed the set 25-16. Egypt comfortably won the next two sets 25-10 and 25-19 to win the match.
Overall ranking: 1. Egypt, 2. Kenya, 3. Rwanda, 4. Botswana, 5. Senegal.
Results day five
Kenya 3 Rwanda 1 (25-23, 23-25, 25-22, 25-19), Egypt 3 Botswana 0 (25-16, 25-10, 25-19).
Full competition results
Day one: Kenya 3 Botswana 0 (25-14, 31-29, 25-20); Rwanda 3 Senegal 1 (26-28, 25-17, 25-19); Day two: Senegal 2 Botswana 3 (23-25, 25-22, 25-22, 23-25, 13-15); Kenya 1 Egypt 3 (25-18, 23-25, 20-25, 18-25); Day three: Egypt 3 Rwanda 0 (25-14, 25-17, 25-21); Kenya 3 Senegal 0 (25-17, 25-7, 25-8); Day four: Rwanda 3 Botswana (25-16, 25-19, 25-17); Egypt 3 Senegal 0 (25-15, 25-6, 25-16).
Best setter: Veronica Kibalat; Best attacker: Yvonne Wavinya; Best receiver: Seraphine Mukantambara (Rwanda); Best libero: Mariam Ahmed (Egypt); MVP: Aya Ahmed (Egypt).