Learden Lee: The greatest asset to any volleyball team


Maria Mendoza

Learden Lee (11) smiles before warm ups against Alta Loma High School.

Olivia Mendoza

Time moves in slow motion as Learden Lee (11) jumps up to hit the ball, and everyone around her runs to cover the block. As she reaches the pinnacle of her height, she contacts the ball sending it straight down to the 10-foot line. Her teammates run to the center court cheering as they just defeated top ranked team, Bonita. 

For some, this might be the most monumental moment of their volleyball career, dare even to say the highlight of their high school career. For Lee, this is a regular occurrence, something that almost occurs during every game she plays.

Lee has not looked back on her volleyball career from the time she first touched the ball at 11 years old. From the day she stepped on the court, she has been outworking every other athlete around her. Ever since starting club at Ignite Volleyball Club and Foundation, she has remained one of the strongest players on any team she’s ever been on.

During the off-season, Lee would spend hours with her dad working on agility drills to better her game as a middle hitter. Regardless of how hot the gym was during the scorching heat waves of the summer, there was never a day when Lee was not putting in the work. The most admirable trait being that at the age of 13, she never needed anyone else to make her a better player. The competition was completely against herself. 

“I have spent weekends training while others were asleep,”  Lee said. “I know how many hours and days I spend on the court and games are where I get to apply the work.” 

As her 14’s club season quickly approached, Lee decided to make the switch to the nationally ranked volleyball team, Tstreet Inland Empire. The switch came with challenges that only made her a better athlete. At the beginning of the season, Lee struggled to find playing time on the court, but never gave up. Working even harder than her teammates around her, she found herself as the starting middle as the season progressed. 

“Everything is more competitive compared to my last club. I have really grown as a player and person while playing for Tstreet,” said Lee. “I love getting to spend time at the gym, compete, travel, and meet new people and players.” 

During her 16’s season, Lee led her team to a 3rd place finish at the Junior National Championships just this past June. At the end of the tournament, she was awarded All-Tournament Team. The name itself is no joke, let alone to be honored with it. Lee was selected as a top contributor to secure a medal at the tournament on the team, something that is only awarded to the most agile and dominant athletes. 

Throughout the club season, Lee is focused on the final goal of chasing after the National Championship title. Easily putting down multiple kills per set, she still has the two most pivotal years as a player to grow and turn her dreams into reality. 

Last year, Lee was one of the starting players on the Ayala volleyball team as a sophomore. As one of the team’s great assets, she was awarded First-Team All League and Defensive Player of the Year. 

Even with all of her accolades, Lee remains one of the nicest and most humble players anyone will ever meet. 

“On the court she is so beyond smart and always knows how to put the ball away and earn our team a point,” junior middle blocker Dani Serrano said. “Off the court, Learden is the sweetest girl you will ever meet. She is beautiful inside and out.” 

As Lee dominates on the court, she also does in the classroom; having maintained a 4.0 GPA all three years at Ayala. This well decorated athlete has a lot to stand for in terms of her recruiting process. 

While she still does have time before making her final decision, Lee is an admirable player for any D1 program throughout the country. While currently talking to some local D1 programs, Lee wants to attend an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), but is still looking for her perfect fit. 

Regardless of where she is playing, Lee has the ability to inspire every other athlete around her. 

“Learden is always so supportive and always there for me outside of volleyball and when we are playing together,” junior Emma Utterback said. “She has motivated me to be a better player mentally and physically.”