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Howard volleyball aims for redemption in 2023 season with twin star players

A tough loss at the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) tournament caused the Howard University volleyball team to enact new changes in the upcoming season under the leadership of twin sisters.

Howard University’s volleyball team huddles in the final match of the MEAC tournament. (Howard Women’s Volleyball team/ @HowardVolleyball)

After ending a six-year championship victory streak, the Howard University volleyball team hopes to return to glory during the 2023 regular season. 

At the end of last season, the Howard University volleyball team suffered a third-place finish in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) tournament after a loss against Delaware State University. This year, the team hopes to return to a standard of success by taking back the title and heading to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament. 

The team kept several heavy-hitting players from the past season, allowing them to head into this season with chemistry, momentum and leadership. Several players are aware of the competition within the MEAC and know what it takes for Howard volleyball to come out on top. 

Twin sisters Cimone and Bria Woodard are now seasoned players instrumental in guiding and shaping the team dynamics. Both sisters spoke on outcomes and lessons from last year’s season and what it will take for Howard volleyball to achieve greatness going forward.

Bria Woodard (3) and Cimone Woodard (17) prepare for a set during their all-conference freshmen campaigns. (Edward C. Jones/Hubisonsports)

“I think I have a responsibility this year defensively to get my numbers up in blocking and add to the overall morale,” Cimone Woodard shared. 

The team will need to put in lots of time and effort to take home a title, and Cimone Woodard explained that the spring season is nothing short of that, with “daily practices excluding the weekends and consistent lifts” to stay in shape. Overall, she believes these things will better prepare them for the season since she’s hoping they’ll get around setbacks with “exposure to new drills” and putting in the work. 

On the other side of the game, offense, the team has another familiar leader, outside hitter Bria Woodard. She knows the team has to show up mentally as much as they do physically this year to enjoy a triumphant season. 

When asked what mental discipline looks like for the team heading into the season, Bria Woodard explained “it’s important for the team to remember our training in stressful situations.” She believes if the team can “play the same game despite [their] environment,” they’ll experience more wins this season. 

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Cimone Woodard also commented on how the team is best prepared mentally for challenging games or opponents when studying their competition beforehand. In addition to “sharing words of encouragement” before a match, she believes knowing what they’re up against uplifts team spirit and puts everyone in a better headspace to compete.

This year, the ladies will start their season facing off against Georgetown University, George Washington University and George Mason University close to home before heading to Raleigh, North Carolina, for a three-game tournament. These matchups begin a tough season for the Howard women’s volleyball team. 

On the Howard University Athletics website, Coach Shaun Kupferberg announced that “the team is very excited to play this challenging schedule.” Kupferberg has been with the team through 11 seasons and is familiar with what it takes to succeed in this conference. 

The Woodard twins also think this demanding schedule gives them a unique opportunity. 

Bria Woodard commented, “defeating big teams like North Carolina State, the University of Georgia and the University of Maryland would up the team’s morale” before entering conference play. She believes the team has what it takes to win all of their games this season as long as “they can commit to playing their best every game.”

Cimone Woodard agreed, mentioning the Bison’s “competitiveness and athleticism sets them apart.” The common theme expressed by the team is that they can compete with anyone as long as they’re playing hard. She also added the team has a plan “to come for revenge versus Delaware State and Coppin State” later in the season. 

The Lady Bison also have three new freshmen and a new transfer student joining the roster for the 2023 season. The team hopes they’ll be able to add to a promising season this year, but above all, Bria Woodard wants them to remember to “have fun on the journey.” Noting there will be “a lot of ups and downs, but to enjoy every moment.” 

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Copy edited by Alana Matthew

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