In the five weeks leading up to the 2018 season we will honor and focus on one of our five seniors that have given so much to our program during their time at Georgia State. This week’s spotlight is on outside hitter, Crystal Lee.
Crystal Lee came to Georgia State from Chicago, Illinois after a stellar career at Thornton Fractional South High School. Lee earned All-Area and All-Conference honors while helping Fractional South to two straight Regional titles. She was named 2013 North West Player of the Year, and MVP of the Diamond Elite Volleyball Club.
Crystal made an immediate impact, recording six kills and 11 digs in four sets in her collegiate debut against Western Carolina. Lee would hit double-digit kills for the first time on September 12, 2015 posting 10 in a home match vs. Depaul. The Illinois native’s first double-double would come later in the 2015 season when she racked up 11 kills and 13 digs against UT Arlington. Lee finished her freshman season with 88 kills, 82 digs, and 14 blocks on her way to 97 points.
The 2016 season saw Lee breakout into a go-to player for coach Sally Polhamus. Crystal played in all but four matches, and finished third on the team in kills with 187 and service aces with 24. She would add in 141 digs and 23 blocks on her way to becoming one of the most complete players in the Sun Belt. Lee would go for double-digit kills on eight occasions, including a career high 20-kill night against Texas State. Three times Lee would record double-doubles, highlighted by a 13-dig, 11-kill performance against Kennesaw State in which she had a hitting percentage of .320. Crystal would set a career high in service aces with eight in a winning effort over Troy on September, 30.
Lee continued to blossom in her junior season, leading the Panthers in kills (282), kills per set (2.50), and service aces (35). She was second on the team with 230 digs, and third with 52 blocks. Over the course of the season, Lee notched double-digit kills 16 times, and led the team with eight double-doubles. In a season opening win over Rutgers, Crystal recorded 16 kills, 10 digs, five aces, and four blocks on her way to 23 points. On September 16 Lee posted a career high five blocks against Wofford, doing so in only two sets of play.
Through three years of play, Crystal Lee leads all current Panthers in kills (557), digs (453), and service aces (61). Lee’s 89 blocks are second only to Shae Chapman and her 75 matches played rank third behind Anna Rantala and Sarah Renner.
Coach Sally Polhamus describes Crystal as, “a consistent and explosive player that is the heart of our team. She is a relentless player on and off the court, a real “Go-To” player that always finds a way”.
While Crystal Lee has become one of GSU’s impact players, she hopes that her legacy reaches beyond the court. “I don’t want to be remembered as “that amazing athlete” but, recognized as a leader who perseveres through adversity and hardship while excelling in the classroom”.
A two-time team captain, Lee has been an ideal student athlete on and off the court. Crystal has shined in the classroom earning a spot on the Spring 2017 Academic Honor Roll and was named to the Dean’s List in the fall of 2017 and the spring of 2018.
This past June, Lee was named a recipient of the Wilma Rudolph Student-Athlete Achievement Award by the National Association of Student Athlete Development Professionals. The award is given to student-athletes that have overcome great personal, academic, and/or emotional odds to achieve academic success while participating in collegiate athletics.
“One of my favorable moments here at Georgia state was when I had the opportunity to be an activist for mental health by being a nominee for the Wilma Rudolph award”, said Lee. “I was not only able to touch the people who heard my story, but I was able to represent Georgia State University”.
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