Sept. 23, 2004
Now ranked number three in the nation with a perfect 8-0 record, the Washington volleyball team couldn't have asked for a better start to their season. With Pac-10 play just around the corner, the Huskies know that their toughest competition lies directly ahead. GoHuskies.com reporter Jonathan Price got a chance to talk to Washington's star libero Candace Lee to give Husky fans a chance to get to know her and talk about the 2004-2005 season.
GoHuskies.com: This years volleyball team is off to a great start, is there added pressure to come with your number three ranking?
Candace Lee: "No, because rankings don't really tell who wins and who loses. We don't really look at the rankings because it doesn't matter to us. We have to play hard to be considered number three or better."
GH: What has been the key to the team's success so far this season?
CL: "We have been working really hard every day in practice. Everyone is committed to becoming a really good team."
GH: What makes the libero position unique?
CL: "When I come in it doesn't count as a substitution, so I can come in and out as much as the team needs me to. You have more of a passing roll and get the chance to do a lot of digs."
GH: Have you been a libero throughout your entire volleyball career?
CL: I used to outside hit in high school and club, but I like the responsibilities of libero the best."
GH: Pac-10 play is right around the corner and everyone knows that it is the most talented volleyball conference in the country, is the team ready?
CL: "Every match is going to be tough when we are playing against another Pac-10 team. We just have to take it one game at a time, but we can't take any team for granted in the Pac-10 because everyone is good."
GH: Who do you think will be the most difficult match this year?
CL: "I think that the two matches coming up are going to be really good. They are going to be tough and we are going to have to play our best because UCLA and USC will be tough opponents."
GH: Last year you were took Pac-10 Academic All-Conference second team honors, was it tough to balance volleyball and school work?
CL: No, when we go on our road trips we are given plenty of time to get our studying taken care of. Teachers are very understanding about our schedule and everyone works together to try and make everything work out."
GH: In your opinion, where is the toughest place to play on the road?
CL: "I would say UCLA because they have a huge crowd. Their fans really get into it and they are very loud."
GH: What is it like playing in front of all the Husky fans at Bank of America Arena?
CL: "Everyone on our team loves to play at home. The fans are amazing and it seems like each game brings out more people. A lot of the kids from the camps that we run come out and watch our home games as well and it is really nice to have a lot of support."
GH: Do you help run a lot of camps during the summer?
CL: "Yes, I would run the day camps and the kids were all very cute. The age groups varied but there were a lot of freshmen in high school."
GH: Are other girls on the team helping to run these camps with you? CL: "Yes, almost all of us work the camps over the summer because it is a good way for us to make some money."
GH: Jim McLaughlin has been your coach for your entire Husky career and he has taken this program from last in the Pac-10 to ranked number three in the nation. What is it like playing for a coach that seems to have everything in control and has generated so much success?
CL: "Its awesome because you are told what to do and you just do it. That is what is nice about our team and I think that is what makes us different from other teams, everyone knows what we are here for and everyone is here for the same reason. Everyone will do whatever it takes in order to win a national championship. Jim puts out what you need to do and it is your responsibility to work at it and make yourself better."
GH: Do you find yourself working the hardest you ever have for this team?
CL: "For sure, there are a lot of demands, but it is all worth it. Everyone on the team works hard to get better, but it is all for a good reason."
GH: How close is this year's team both on and off the court?
CL: "On and off the court there is great chemistry. Everyone on the team gets along and I think the biggest thing is that everyone acts like they are teammates. It makes a big difference when everyone has a team mentality and works together."
GH: Does the team hang out a lot off the court?
CL: "Yes, these are pretty much my friends."
GH: What do all of you do for fun?
CL: "We'll sometimes go to parties, but most of the time we will just hang out. Sometimes we will break out the board games because we love Catch Phrase."
GH: Going back to last season, was the team surprised that they made it all the way to the Elite Eight?
CL: "It was surprising, but we just took it one game at a time. We did well, but we feel like we should have gone to the Final Four."
GH: What kind of experience was it going to the Elite Eight? CL: "It was amazing and it was another great challenge for us. It was a great chance for us to show what we can do, but in the end we feel like we could have done better."
GH: What experience have you gained from the Elite Eight that you can bring into this season?
CL: "I think that it made us realize that we can do even better and we have the ability to become a championship team. It really helped us to develop a good mind set for this year."
GH: Individually, what do you think that you need to improve on in order to help build that championship team?
CL: "I am trying to improve on my passing and my mental game. I need to just be steady and be able to stay focused mentally."
GH: Since you were a freshman here, how much have you progressed as a volleyball player?
CL: "I feel like everything has become simplified for me. It is such a different game then I used to play because everything seemed much more complex to me. My passing movements seem more simplified because I have been practicing on these things everyday, but it never comes easy."
GH: Do you see yourself as a leader now that you are a veteran on this team as a junior?
CL: "I think that everyone on this team is a leader in different ways. Courtney (Thompson) runs the floor, Sanja is just Sanja and she is awesome and everyone has their own role on this team. I lead more by example because I am in a different position."