By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
There isn’t much that Emmy Allen hasn’t achieved in her volleyball career at Jackson High School. That is why it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Allen is The Herald’s All-Area Player of the Year for a second consecutive season.
Allen, a senior, has been one of the leaders of the Timberwolves volleyball team that has made three consecutive 4A state tournaments, placing third this year, fourth in 2011 and winning the championship in 2010. Playing on the varsity team all four years of high school, she became one of the most feared hitters in the state.
She finished her senior season with 309 kills and a 53.6 percent kill percentage.
For Allen, perhaps the most rewarding thing is where the program is now thanks to her and her teammates.
“I’m happy with what the program has become compared to how it started,” she said. “And I’m happy that I’ve gotten to play with Haley (MacDonald), Miah (Diirell) and Payton (Locknane), all those girls that I’ve been playing with since I was 11 or 12.”
Emmy wasn’t the only Allen to play a role in the transformation of the volleyball program at Jackson. She has been coached by her older sister, Ashley, for the final three years of her high-school career.
“I think she had a big impact all four years,” Ashley Allen said. “I think she had a really impressive career, I think most people would agree with that. Definitely, she made a big impact on the program and hopefully has set a good example for the younger girls to come through and have the same type of work ethic and expectations of themselves.”
Every year of Allen’s head coaching career she has coached her younger sister and she said it’s something she will miss next year.
“Coaching my sister is something that is pretty hard to put into words,” Allen said. “It’s been a really great experience and definitely something I have valued the last three years. I’m glad I got to be around her career, just in general to watch it, but also to have an impact on it and be involved in it daily was something that is almost a dream, not a lot of people get to do that kind of stuff and work with their sister every day in a sport that we both love. I can’t really put it into words other than I’ve really enjoyed it a lot and I will miss it for sure.”
All of Allen’s accomplishments have earned her a full-ride athletic scholarship to Washington State University. But she won’t be going alone, MacDonald, her setter will be headed to Pullman with her to play for the Cougars next season.
“I think they have the potential to really send that program in the right direction,” Ashley Allen said. “I think the coaches that are there now are really trying to change the name of Wazzu volleyball and they are trying to make them a contender for the Pac-12 tournament and the NCAA tournament and I think those two are definitely going to help.”
MacDonald made the decision to attend Washington State a couple of years ago, something her teammate razzed her about at the time. Two years later, she made the decision to become her teammate.
“When Haley first committed I gave her the hardest time about going to Pullman because she is a great player and she had tons of other options,” Allen said. “And she was like, ‘you just have to visit, you just have to see.’ So I think it was a couple months after that I went on my first visit and I just absolutely loved it. I don’t know what it was. It was different than anywhere else, because I had visited places like San Diego. I don’t know, it was something about Pullman, I just loved it.”
MacDonald, who was also a finalist for Player of the Year and received several votes, in many ways has been just as important to the Timberwolves success over the past three seasons. So it seems only fitting that the two will continue their volleyball careers together.
“She is a hard working player, a player that we can rely on,” Emmy Allen said. “I love playing with her. She is intense. Anyone can trust her on the court. She is really passionate. I can’t wait to play with her at Wazzu. I could go on about her for a while.”
And she did, adding that sometimes the role of setter can be overlooked.
“It’s huge,” she said. “I don’t think, a lot of times, that setters get enough credit. A setter can make or break your team because you can have great passing or great hitting, but if you don’t have a setter that can deliver ball and have that knowledge and that leadership that you need to be a setter then it doesn’t matter.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.