While precautions are still in place due to the pandemic, fall sports took place on schedule. For Howard University women’s volleyball, it was a purposeful return to action as the Bison claimed its six Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Championship in seven seasons and earned a trip to the 2021 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Tournament.
The team includes two outstanding freshmen, twin sisters Bria and Cimone Woodard, both 6-foot-3. In the MEAC championship game over Delaware State, Cimone, a middle blocker, led the Bison with 10 kills, eight digs and six total blocks and was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Bria said the team was meticulous in its pre-match scouting. Cimone said they watched a lot of film.
“The MEAC tournament was an amazing experience,” said Bria, an outside hitter and the MEAC’s Rookie of the Year. “We also got to watch all the other teams compete as well, which was really cool to see; seeing all of the great competition happening in Burr Gym [at Howard] was almost surreal.”
Although Cimone took up volleyball a year before Bria, they’ve played together ever since and couldn’t imagine separating for their collegiate experience. They play different positions so they’re often side by side on the court. Having grown up playing on predominantly white teams, they intentionally selected Howard, a renowned HBCU institution.
“Honestly, we love Howard,” said Bria. “I love going to a mostly Black school. This is a really cool change for me. Being around people that look like you all the time, who are smart and driven is, of course, amazing.”
“I love the HBCU experience,” said Cimone. “It’s not only athletes, but everybody is Black and it’s really cool.”
Heading into the NCAA Tournament, they were excited to see collegiate volleyball at the highest level and they were focused on playing their best. “We’ve been watching the tournament every year,” said Bria. “It’s crazy we’re actually going to be playing in it.”
The Bison knew that its first-round opponent, the tournament’s ninth seed Ohio State, would be tough, and that proved to be the case. Ohio State prevailed 3–0. Bria had five kills against the Buckeyes and Cimone added four kills.
Volleyball has been their main focus these past few months, but they will likely up their activity on social media now that the season is done. “We have to start thinking of ideas,” said Bria. “When we have time for TikTok, it’s always a blast.”