As the volleyball season closes, the Lady Bison are looking to defend their title as the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) champions.
The women’s volleyball team has dropped their last two games. They were swept by Coppin State University (19-8) and took a 1-3 loss to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).
However, these losses do not tell the story of the Bison’s second half of the season. Before these defeats, Howard went on a nine-game win streak, including eight wins against MEAC teams. Assistant coach Sareea Freeman talked about the team regaining that fuel for their last four regular-season matchups.
“It’s really about maintaining our level of play,” Freeman said. “Because we’re the reigning champions, every team is going to come for us with their biggest and hardest fight. We need to respect our opponents and play to our level of play. We have dealt with a couple moments of adversity, and our team had to persevere through these moments. We had a couple of injuries happen in practice that affected our starting lineup. So finding a way to maintain and find our chemistry is where we’re at right now.”
The Bison boast an 8-2 record against MEAC opponents, which is second overall in the conference. Howard has continued their dominance over conference rivals and handed Coppin State its only MEAC loss on Oct. 9. Freeman says the goal is to end the season strong in preparation for the MEAC Tournament.
“Obviously, we’re trying to win out and maintain our No. 2 position,” Freeman said. “We’ll use our next games to re-establish our chemistry and really find our rhythm again, which will help in the long term. I feel confident about us going into the tournament.”
The tournament begins on Nov. 18. Howard’s volleyball team has dominated this event over the past decade, winning the MEAC Tournament six times in the last seven seasons. They are looking to accomplish this feat once again.
Freshman outside hitter Rya McKinnon continues to be a focal point for Howard’s success. Even in the loss to the UMBC (14-6), McKinnon logged season highs in points, total blocks, and kills. She leads the team in points and kills per set. Assistant coach Freeman talked about the freshman continuing to develop in her first collegiate season.
“Rya is continuing to grow,” Freeman said. “She’s gaining confidence, understanding her role and how big of a difference maker she is on the court. We’re gonna continue to push her. The sky’s the limit for that kid; she has a world of potential. She can be an All-American. It’s just really about getting her there. Have her understand the leadership that’s needed, as well as how to handle certain situations in a game when the pressure is on. She’s continuing to be the go-to player to get us out of tough spots, and she’s excelling in that now. She’s silent but deadly, and she’s leading by example.”
Copy edited by Nhandi Long-Shipman