Twin sisters meet on volleyball court in rivalry game

Arica Shepard, left, and Ashley Shepard are identical twin sisters and play volleyball for rivals Emporia State and Washburn.

Eric Smith

Anyone who is a Washburn Lady Blues volleyball fan knows sophomore Ashley Shepard for her stellar hitting skills. But her identical twin sister Arica is just as good, and she plays for the rival Emporia State Hornets.

“We are identical but her hair is blonder if you want to stay with physical appearance,” said Ashley, who is younger than Arica by a minute. “If you want to go with personality, I’m more shy, laid back. I’ve been known to be the nice one throughout high school. With her, she’s definitely more outgoing, kind of crazy. She’s got a real kind of aggressive attitude, especially towards competition and stuff.”

But Ashley won’t deny that she’s competitive, too and when it comes to playing volleyball, Arica believes Ashley plays with a whole different style.

“She’s a lot more serious when it comes to volleyball. I like to have fun and joke around,” said Arica. “I’m usually smiling more out there while she’s got a game-face on.” The Shepard twins, as they have always been known, played volleyball together in Rossville on every team they were on until their senior year of high school. This is where the split came because as Ashley said, the two didn’t really get along much in high school because they were trying to be different from each other.

“With us wanting to be individuals, it did help that we went to separate schools but I think with our personalities, where we went fits best,” said Ashley. “I think coach [Chris] Herron and my sister would have clashed heads a couple of times, with her being as aggressive as she is in personality.”

But although they are about an hour away from each other, the two still see each other often and use their relationship to help bring the two teams together.

“I see her at family functions all the time,” said Ashley. “I get along with all the people on her team because I’ve gone and hung out with her a couple of times. And she comes and hangs out with us. So we all know each other. It’s almost like both teams kind of get along with that through us.”

Even though the two aren’t the closest of twin siblings, both have found that there is some good that comes out of having a person just like eachother.

“Having someone that you can always depend on if you really need to is nice,” said Arica. “They can help with a problem because most likely they’ve been in the same situation before.”

Another key benefit of having a sister that plays volleyball on an opposing team is that they both give each other suggestions when playing other teams.

“We’re partners with them in the MIAA, so we always play who they play,” said Ashley. “So when we do talk to each other, she’ll kind of tell me like ‘this person does this, you need to hit line against this team,’ and we kind of give each other advice on the teams we play.”

Before the Washburn-Emporia State volleyball match on Friday night, with the sisters being as competitive as they are, Ashley made a bold prediction for the game.

“They’ve only lost one and we’ve only lost two, so after we beat them these next two times we play them, we’ll have the better record,” said Ashley.

With the 3-0 Washburn victory, Ashley held up her prediction for now. The next time the Lady Blues and Hornets play is at 7 p.m. on Nov. 14 in Emporia.

“We got a little work to do,” said Arica, who now has a 1-2 record in games versus her sister. “We have to pick up our game a little bit so we can end up with the better record.”