UW coach digs Lee's abilities
Candace Lee, the libero on the second-ranked Washington volleyball team, will always be No. 1 on coach Jim McLaughlin's list. "She was the very...
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Candace Lee, the libero on the second-ranked Washington volleyball team, will always be No. 1 on coach Jim McLaughlin's list.
"She was the very first kid I recruited to Washington," says McLaughlin, who came to Seattle in 2001 after highly successful stints coaching Kansas State and the USC men's team.
"On my first day at the office here, the first call I received was from a club coach who told me, 'I've got this player who fits into everything you do.'
"It was a little strange. I thought, 'How do you know what I do?' So I asked him some basic questions, and I realized this guy is making sense."
The caller eventually identified himself as a former assistant at Arkansas who had admired McLaughlin's polished Kansas State teams.
The next day McLaughlin drove five hours to Eugene, Ore., to watch Lee practice.
"I liked the tenacity, the aggressiveness, the focus," McLaughlin said. "I walked out of the gym and said to myself, 'I want this kid.' "
Tonight: 7 p.m., Arizona State (6-6 overall, 1-1 Pac-10) vs. UW (10-0, 1-0)
Tomorrow: 7 p.m., No. 13 Arizona (10-1, 2-0) vs. UW
Where: Edmundson Pavilion, both matches
Tickets: $5 adults, $3 seniors/18 and under, general admission. Call (206) 543-2200; www.gohuskies.com
Good call. In three-plus years, the 5-foot-7 Lee has anchored the Huskies' back line in the role of principal passer and defensive specialist, a key component in McLaughlin's fast-track plan to transform a modest UW program into a national power. Washington reached its first NCAA Final Four last season and is a serious title contender this season.
The Huskies (10-0, 1-0 Pac-10) play their Pac-10 home openers against Arizona State tonight at 7 and No. 13 Arizona tomorrow.
Lee, a 2004 honorable-mention All-American and an All-Pac-10 selection, entered her senior season already owning the school career record for digs.
During UW's Pac-10 opener last week at Washington State, she moved into the No. 3 spot on the Pac-10's all-time digs list with 1,631, just 71 shy of No. 2. She is averaging more digs per game (4.54) than the Pac-10's all-time leader, Chrissie Zartman of UCLA (4.46 dpg, 2001-04).
"She is a great player in many ways, maybe the elite libero in the whole country," says McLaughlin. "She's going to be on the U.S. team, I'm sure.
"Above and beyond that, she's a special person. You're not supposed to have your favorites, but she's one of the greatest kids I've ever coached — men, women, U.S. teams," says McLaughlin, who has coached the 1991 U.S. Pan Am team and three World University Games squads.
Away from the court, Lee impresses people as a cheerful, engaging soul who makes friends easily. On the court, Lee comes mentally locked.
"I'm very focused," she said. "When I'm going into a match or a practice or anything, approaching it half-heartedly is not an option for me."
Lee's drive carries over to the classroom, where the English major (minoring in Italian) carried a 3.77 grade-point average last fall.
This year Lee wants reach the NCAA title game — and win it.
"We have a lot of depth and experience," she said. "If we keep meeting our standards, we're going to win it all."
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.