Thirty-one hours. Two Apple Cups. One Story

Giving perspective on volleyball and football Apple Cups 

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WSU outside hitter Pia Timmer (left) and opposite Katy Ryan (right) celebrate after sweeping UW, Nov. 25.

BRANDON WILLMAN, Evergreen reporter

Over the course of 31 hours, I was blessed to be allowed to cover both volleyball and football Apple Cups. For volleyball, I was working as the beat writer for this very publication and for football, I got to sit with beat writer Trevor Junt in the press box and prepare to write this very column.

For several reasons, my experience and joy from Friday to Saturday were different, but both events had their own unique things that made them memorable.

I was in attendance last season in Seattle when I witnessed the Cougs coming out on top on the opposing turf. After seeing the WSU crowd in the Apple Cup, I can confidently say that Husky fans can win the next 100 Apple Cups and will still never come close to being as good of a crowd.

But in 2022, volleyball came first and I got to experience a sold-out and record-breaking crowd in Bohler gym. Having attended all but two home games of the 2022 season, it was quite the sight to see the entire gym packed to the brim with fans.

Becoming the beat writer at the start of the volleyball season, I had no idea what to expect. But after three months, two player features and over 30 games covered, it has been one of the best experiences of my life.

Players and coaches alike have been extremely easy to interview and the play on the court has been electric.

Going into the Apple Cup, I was confident in the team’s ability to take the win. In front of a full band and full crowd, every point in the Cougs’ favor was electric. It was a sweep where WSU took down UW 3-0 (27-25, 27-25, 25-20).

Postgame, head coach Jen Greeny said that the crowd had a huge impact on the game and the record-breaking crowd sure did. The first two sets came down to the wire and it seemed as if the players certainly fed off the energy.

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WSU volleyball players high-five fans after sweeping UW, Nov. 25.

“I think when I played was the last crowd this big. Kudos to the fans who are in town for coming out,” she said.

The win also guaranteed that the Cougs will dance in the NCAA Tournament. With it being the first year that I get to cover the team, it has been nothing short of fascinating to watch the growth they have made in just a few months.

My Saturday started early as I woke up to watch a couple of the other games on the college football slate.

Eventually, after a long and hard day of doing not much else other than watching college football and sleeping, it was time to head to Martin Stadium to watch my Cougs take on the Huskies.

While I may have been blinded by bias, I was sure that Wazzu being at home meant a surefire victory. When I arrived at 5 p.m., two and a half hours before the scheduled kickoff, the atmosphere was already exciting.

Even before fans and students began pouring into the crowd, the excitement in the air was clearly felt. Pregame was usual in the press box, everyone chatting and getting their stuff set up.

Eventually, the bands of both UW and WSU played their show before the opening kickoff. Honestly, it is always one of the highlights of gameday. The pregame and halftime show put on by the band show the dedication of so many students and they are often overlooked in the grand scheme of WSU Athletics as a whole.

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WSU quarterback Cameron Ward throws a pass during the Apple Cup, Nov. 26.

The game itself was fun to be a part of. The offensive shootout is by far the most entertaining genre of football to watch, especially when it is between two rivals. Hearing the roar of the crowd after every Coug touchdown and big play gave me chills.

Asking anyone in attendance, they will probably tell you they were engaged all the way to at least the halfway point of the fourth quarter. That is everyone except Mr. Junt. The game was so boring to him that he was falling asleep at the end of the game, quite the symbolic way to describe the WSU second-half performance as a whole.

Comparing the loss at home to the win on the road, the feeling is certainly different and head coach Jake Dickert put it best.

“I mean I told them the locker room, it should scar ‘em and scars are good if you learn from them. So there’s no joy in there. And I remember the jubilation of last year,” Dickert said.

I wholeheartedly agree. Even as a fan, it is quite a disappointing outcome and the jubilation from last season is still engraved in my brain.

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UW students rush the field and celebrate with players after defeating WSU 51-33 in the Apple Cup, Nov. 26.

Despite the loss, the team still performed well enough to earn a bowl game so they still have one left in the tank.

Between that bowl game and the NCAA Tournament for volleyball, the excitement might be just beginning.