Released by The MEAC,
DOVER, Del., Nov. 19, 2023 – The Coppin State University Eagles are the 2023 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) volleyball champions.
No. 1 seeded Coppin State defeated the second-seeded Bison on a three-set sweep (25-20, 26-24, 25-19) in a raucous Memorial Hall Gym Sunday evening in front of a live ESPNU audience to win the program’s first ever MEAC Championship Title and their first-ever NCAA Championship bid.
Coppin State (27-4) will find out their NCAA opponent when the NCAA Selection Show airs Sunday, Nov. 26 at 6 p.m. on ESPNU.
The Eagles TaKenya Stafford, who was named the tournament’s Outstanding Performer, led the way with 12 kills and six digs, hitting .480 committing no errors on 25 swings. Teammate Geraldyn Palacios recorded three kills as well as three service aces and five blocks to help lead CSU to victory.
Andrea Tsvetanova had 20 of the Eagles’ 35 assists, while Ammaarah Williams led the defense with 10 digs.
Coppin State hit .236 for the match, while holding Howard to .164 hitting. The Eagles dominated at the net, racking up 12 blocks to Howard’s six.
After the first set opened with the teams tied at four all, Howard went on a 4-1 run taking an 8-5 lead. Coppin State came back to tie the score at eight all and saw the score even up three more times, last at 11 all, before Howard pulled ahead 15-12 following a pair of kills from Cimone Woodard and Dami Awojobi forcing Coppin State to call a timeout.
The Bison came out of the time out scoring on a double-block from Woodard and Awojobi, but the Eagles bided their time as they came back to tie the score at 17 all on a kill from TaKenya Stafford. After tying again once more at 18 all, CSU pulled ahead shifting the momentum in favor of the Eagles who closed out set one on a 7-3 run winning 25-20 and taking the 1-0 match lead.
That late momentum carried into the opening stages of the second set, as the Eagles scored the first three points causing Coach Kupferberg from Howard to call an early timeout. Three consecutive kills from the Bison evened the score, but the Eagles reclaimed their lead going on a 4-0 run to lead 7-3.
Coppin State continued to lead through the next stage of the set holding a 10-6 advantage, however, Howard dug down deep and came back to knot the score at 13 all and took a one-point lead, 14-13, following a 7-3 rally of their own capped by back-to-back kills from Woodard. The score tied twice more before the Bison went on a five-point run taking a 20-15 lead as the Woodard twins, Bria and Cimone, put down back-to-back kills and assisted each other on a double-block.
A kill from Coppin State’s Ammaarah Williams was the spark the Eagles needed to come back and pull within three points, 23-20, forcing Howard to call their last timeout of the second set. Each team scored a point coming out of the timeout and a kill by Howard’s Rya McKinnon put the score at 24-21. With a rowdy crowd behind them, the Eagles dug in and fought back to win set two 26-24 after three consecutive kills, a service ace and a Bison attacking error fell for Coppin State who took the 2-0 match lead.
The third set began with the Bison coming out on a 4-1 run capitalizing on several Eagles errors. Coppin State came back and evened the score at five all and continued to pull away taking an 11-6 lead following a 10-2 rally that saw Howard commit seven errors in the run causing Coach Kupferberg to call timeout.
The Bison climbed back into the match going on a 5-3 run that put the score at 14-11 causing Coach Walsh to use one of his timeouts. Howard continued to draw nearer closing the gap to just one point, 17-16, on a service error from the Coppin State. The Eagles started to pull back ahead with two big back-to-back blocks that put the score at 20-16 forcing the Bison to use their last timeout.
Howard added three more points to their total but the momentum was on Coppin State’s side as they closed out the set on the 5-3 run winning set three 25-19 and the match in three sets.
When Bria Woodard’s attack fell foul, the Eagles took the set and the match, triggering a massive celebration.
Tim Walsh of Coppin State was named the tournament’s Outstanding Coach.
Cimone Woodard led the Bison (17-14) with 10 kills, while Jennifer Bolden added 10.
Outstanding Performer: TaKenya Stafford, Coppin State
Outstanding Coach: Tim Walsh, Coppin State
TaKenya Stafford, Coppin State
Ammaarah Williams, Coppin State
Geraldyn Palacios, Coppin State
Rya McKinnon, Howard
Jennifer Bolden, Howard
Alondra Maldonado, Delaware State
Nkemjika Ikemefuna, Maryland Eastern Shore