Tuesday, 02 May 2023 08:45


The 23-year-old wants to add titles to her national team CV after impressing at the FIVB Women’s World Championship 2022

Growing up in the tiny village of Kamrembo Siwandhe tucked inside Ugenya, Siaya County located in the Western part of Kenya, Veronica Adhiambo, even in her wildest dreams, never saw herself as a professional volleyball player in the future.

“I was a good football player but one day my teacher convinced me to try out volleyball. I remember my first touch of the volleyball ball was a serve which I executed with my feet over the net,” recalled a chuckling Adhiambo who was Kenya’s second-best scorer at the 2022 FIVB World Championship with 50 points.

She no longer serves with her feet, her devastating jump serve is an integral component of her game whenever she is on court. She managed five aces at the World Championship and another four and 41 points from blocks and kills respectively to guide Kenya to their best ever finish at the global competition – 19th out of 24.

Kenya outside hitter Veronica Adhiambo goes for a jump serve during the FIVB World Championship 2022 in Arnhem, Netherlands


Her breakthrough at the national team arrived at last year’s FIVB World Championship where she featured in all of Kenya’s five Pool A matches, thrice as a starter. After substitute appearances in the first two matches against hosts Netherlands and Belgium, Adhiambo’s first start in national team colours was a memorable one as she scored 12 points (only second to teammate Sharon Chepchumba) in the 3-0 win over rivals Cameroon.

“Playing at that level in only my second national team assignment was always going to be a challenge but the Brazil camp prepared me well both psychologically and physically. I was slowly being introduced into the first team by coach Luizomar in the friendly matches that we played in Brazil which helped me learn how to handle the pressure,” said Adhiambo who joined Turkish club Tarsus Belediyespor shortly after the World Championship.

That performance earned her another start against Volleyball Nations League (VNL) champions Italy. Kenya came close to winning a set against the European champions with Adhiambo contributing eight points. A Most Valuable Player (MVP) performance of 22 points against Puerto Rico from Adhiambo ensured Kenya claimed a set despite losing to the North Americans and missing out on the second round altogether. Her performances in Netherlands had convinced scouts that she was ripe for professional volleyball.

It’s in São Paulo, Brazil where Kenya camped for 10 weeks in preparation for the World Championship as part of the FIVB’s Volleyball Empowerment programme that Adhiambo refined her game.

“I left Brazil a different player because the training regime was different to what I was used to in Kenya. The strength training helped improve my jump and made me less prone to injuries. Playing quality friendly matches every week also improved my attack and boosted my confidence,” she reflected on the gains in Brazil. “The Brazil camp improved my knowledge of the game and helped me understand what high-level volleyball is all about. A lot of the things I learnt in Brazil have made me settle well in my club now as a professional player.”

Kenya outside hitter Veronica Adhiambo in action during the FIVB World Championship 2022 in Arnhem, Netherlands


The 23-year-old Adhiambo has taken the Turkish second tier league by storm after walking straight into Tarsus’s first team. They finished ninth on the 12-team league with 26 points, 11 behind fourth-placed Bahcelievler Belediyespor to miss out on the four promotion play-offs slots.

However, she reckons that her first season as a professional player has been a great learning curve. She now dreams of playing in the lucrative Turkish top tier league next season where she will rub shoulders with the cream of women’s volleyball – Serbia’s Tijana Boskovic, Brazil’s Gabriela “Gabi” Guimaraes and Italy’s Paola Egonu.

“Being a professional player is an amazing experience because the team is always looking up to you. You have to provide solutions by scoring in crucial moments. This has helped me mature quickly despite being one of the youngest players in the team. It’s a high level, you can’t compete if you don’t give your best,” Adhiambo told FIVB.com.

“If I am not the MVP in our league matches, I am always among the top five scorers in every game so I believe I am ready for the top league,” added Adhiambo who plays both as an opposite and outside hitter at her club.

Kenya outside hitter Veronica Adhiambo celebrates a point during the FIVB World Championship 2022 in Arnhem, Netherlands


But first things first, she has unfinished business with the national team. She is eager to win her first trophy with the Malkia Strikers at this year’s Africa Nations Championship after losing the 2021 final to Cameroon, and to then focus on qualifying for the Olympic Games Paris 2024.

“Now that I am in the first team, I want to keep my place. I also want to lift the African title because this was my first assignment with the national team in 2021 and it was painful to lose in the final.    

“Playing at the Olympics is the dream of every player so I definitely want to be in Paris. We have good quality and I believe we can qualify. Focus and hard work is what will get us there,” she asserted.