Leslie Catlin hasn't had many losing experiences on a volleyball court.
In her three years at Lawrence High, the Lions went 103-13. LHS finished runnerup at state twice before Catlin's senior year, when the Lions went 40-0 and won the Class 6A state title.
In her two years at Washington University in St. Louis, the Bears have gone 73-7, and in November they won the NCAA Div. III title with a 3-2 victory over California-San Diego.
"Coming from Lawrence High, I haven't lost a lot," said Catlin, WU a sophomore. "I think that helps. When you get down, you know you can come back. I think it really helps."
When it came to admission at WU, Catlin said she thought she was helped by another LHS grad. Lori Nishikawa, a Lawrence High standout and three-time All-America pick and two-time national player of the year, graduated from Washington the same year Catlin graduated from Lawrence High.
"I THINK she was one reason the (WU) coach was even interested in me, because of Lori," Catlin said. "I was hoping they weren't expecting the same things from me that they expected of Lori. I think they knew I was a different kind of player."
In November, the Bears claimed a 14-16, 15-6, 9-15, 15-13, 15-8 win over UC San Diego for the national title. The championship, held in St. Louis for the third straight year, was a rematch of the 1990 national championship UCSD won in five games.
"I didn't know what to expect," Catlin said. "We lost to them last year in the finals, so it was revenge the whole way."
Revenge wasn't the only motivator. UCSD ended the regular season ranked No. 1, and WU was No. 2. San Diego hadn't lost a Div. III match since an October, 1990, defeat by Washington, and the Bears held a 22-match home winning streak.
"It helped so much being at home," Catlin said. "It came down to the fifth game, rally-point scoring."
IF WU COACH Teri Clemens knows something about Catlin's role next year, she's not saying.
Catlin, who set a WU single-season record with 564 digs, said she hopes to become a setter next year. All-American setter Kelley Meier, who took over the setting chores when Nishikawa graduated, is a senior this year.
Catlin will compete with sophomore Angela Suarez for the setting job.
"It's really up in the air," Catlin said. "Passing, I can do that, but I really want to set."