Ashley Allen used to tape her younger sister's hands together.
It was nothing malicious. In fact, freshman volleyball player Emmy Allen said it was her favorite memory of playing with her sister as a child; Ashley just wanted to help her sister be a better volleyball player.
“My hands would fall apart when I was younger, so she would duct tape them together and then throw balls at me,” Emmy said. “It was funny; I don’t know how much it did, but it was fun.”
Emmy is one of the WSU women’s volleyball team’s six incoming freshmen this season, a class ranked 14th in the country by PrepVolleyball.com.
Emmy started playing club volleyball at 8 years old, originally driven to the sport by her desire to be just like her older sister.
That desire to follow her sister’s footsteps and memories of playing with her are what kept Emmy coming back to volleyball every year.
“I think when I just got to spend time (playing) with my sister and she would teach me, that made me want to start doing it,” she said. “Then I just fell in love with the game after that.”
Ever since her love for the sport began, Emmy knew she wanted to continue her career beyond high school.
“I don’t know if I ever asked myself, ‘Is this possible?,’” Emmy said. “I just said, ‘I’m gonna do it.’ I knew from a young age.”
The attention from colleges came early. Emmy was first approached by the University of Washington when she was in seventh grade and began getting letters from others schools soon after.
“We had been watching Emmy for three years,” WSU Assistant Coach Burdette Greeny said. “As we watched her get stronger and more physically developed, her game kept increasing.”
Greeny also praised Emmy’s volleyball knowledge and drive to improve during their recruiting stage.
“She’s always been extremely smart, her volleyball IQ is, in our opinion, off the charts,” he said. “She’s also got a drive. (She) seems to have the desire that elite athletes have. So I mean we’re excited to have her.”
The recruiting process with Emmy was not easy at first. Greeny said that convincing her, along with many other Seattle athletes, to make a trip to Pullman was tough.
However, once the coaching staff got her to visit she fell in love with Pullman and WSU.
“It’s so different from anywhere else,” Emmy said. “The community support, everywhere else you go it’s a big school and all the focus is around football, and football is great. But the community support for all the sports here, and not just the athletes but the students too, it’s not like anywhere else.”
The sell didn’t just work on Emmy, either. Her high school teammate and now fellow freshman Cougar, Haley MacDonald, was just as convinced WSU was the place for her to be.
With the season rapidly approaching, Emmy said she feels nothing but excitement to see her first collegiate-game action.
“It’s really exciting,” she said. “It’s all I’ve wanted to do. My whole life, that’s all I’ve wanted to do since I was little, was play college volleyball. Especially since I’ve committed here, it’s all I’ve thought about.”
Emmy and the rest of the Cougars take on Alabama on Aug. 31 at 9 a.m. for their first match of the 2013 season.