After serving as a three-year starter and earning All-MWC honors in the middle, Jackie Bundy serves as an undergraduate assistant coach in 2002. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
The Former All-Conference Middle is Not One to Make Waves
Former All-Mountain West Conference middle blocker Jackie Bundy is not one to make waves. She never has been. In 2002 she marks the end of her playing career by serving as an undergraduate assistant coach for Karen Lamb.
The youngest of Lowell and Penny Bundy's four children, all girls, Jackie is a peacemaker who has never given her parents a moment's trouble. She is also the only Bundy daughter who did not pursue swimming as her sport of choice. A Bundy family fish out of water, Jackie instead decided volleyball would be her fancy.
Looking at Jackie now, it's easy to imagine why volleyball became her passion. An all-conference middle blocker, the 6-1 senior finished 12th in the nation as a junior in blocks per game and recorded the rare triple-double (15 kills, 12 digs, 10 blocks in win over nationally ranked Colorado) as a senior. Teaming with All-American Nina Puikkonen, Jackie helped make up one of the most talented middle duos in BYU history.
Yet, Jackie got started in volleyball almost by accident.
"It was a fluke that she started playing volleyball," says Jackie's mother Penny. "A friend asked her to play and she eventually found that was her talent."
A Sacramento, Calif., native, Jackie had been the tallest kid in her class since entering kindergarten. When she reached junior high school, an observant coach quickly introduced Jackie to basketball. She had yet to think about volleyball until the summer before high school when a longtime friend, a companion since kindergarten, convinced Jackie to play with her on a club volleyball team.
"I had to play because they only had six or seven girls on the team," Jackie explains. "They had all already played for several years so I was the worst one on the team. It was frustrating and sometimes I wanted to quit. But I didn't. I didn't want to give up on something I had just tried for the first time."
Jackie's determination to see past the frustrations of the moment proved to not only benefit Jackie but also Hiram Johnson High School coach Pam Wittpen and eventually longtime BYU volleyball coach Elaine Michaelis.
Wittpen, who coached Jackie's club team that first summer, also saw past the early learning curve Jackie experienced in her first months on the court. When Jackie tried out for the high school team as a freshman, Wittpen put her on the varsity squad despite her raw skills and lack of experience.
"I think she knew I wouldn't get better if I played with the younger girls," Jackie offers. "She had to have (seen some potential talent). I don't know why else she put me on the varsity team."
The challenge of learning a new sport went from frustrating to fun by the end of Jackie's freshman year. She even set aside basketball, something she had played since the seventh grade, to pursue her volleyball aspirations.
Enjoying the challenge of trying to get better, Jackie earned a starting spot in the middle as a sophomore. She helped the team to the state tournament as a junior and senior and suddenly her challenge to get better had created the task of sorting through a lot of recruiting letters.
"She had more than 100 colleges send her letters during her junior year," says Jackie's mother.
Jackie's parents met as students at BYU but only one of their daughters had decided to attend their alma mater, and that was for only a single semester. Jackie received a letter from BYU as a junior but the Cougars had just signed four middle blockers, and Jackie wasn't entirely sure of BYU's level of interest.
Jackie narrowed her choices to five schools - UCLA, Hawaii, USC, Pacific and BYU - by the end of her junior season. As a senior, the list was whittled to three, with Jackie taking recruiting trips to USC, Pacific and BYU.
"I liked the campus and the girls on the team at USC, and I liked the coaches at UOP (University of the Pacific)," Jackie reveals. "I liked the girls and the whole value system at BYU. I knew that was where I wanted to go."
Even after her recruiting visit to Provo, Jackie wasn't sure if she would be playing the middle or perhaps another position. With Nina Puikkonen, Melissa Layton, Alyssa Barrus and Natalie Whittaker all signing the year before, Jackie was uncertain where she would fit in but accepted the challenge much like she had when she first took up the sport.
"They said they could see me on the right side or on the outside but they weren't sure about the middle," she says. "I like the outside. I wouldn't have minded hitting from the left side. I didn't really expect to come in and play as a freshman."
Jackie didn't play a lot as a freshman, but she did play a valuable role as a backup on the right side and middle. With Layton moving from the middle to the right side to replace outgoing All-American Korie Rogers, Jackie entered her sophomore season competing for a starting spot in the middle along with Barrus.
"I thought the position was Alyssa's because she had the seniority," says Jackie, who won the starting nod. "In the first game I shanked the first two balls and they played Alyssa the final two games. I thought I might have blown my chance. That night was hard because I had played so poorly."
Yet, like before, Jackie was not deterred because of her frustrations. She started again the next match and improved her performance while playing all five games. She went on to play all 33 matches as a sophomore to begin what would be a three-year reign in the BYU middle along with Puikkonen.
The Cougars won the inaugural Mountain West Conference regular season title that year and advanced to the NCAA regional semifinals in Stockton, Calif., with a 28-5 record.
Jackie continued her progress in 2001 as a junior, earning all-conference honors. She led BYU to a win over No. 1 Stanford with a career-high 16 kills and recorded a BYU season-high 14 blocks vs. Notre Dame. She had 17 double-digit kill matches and five double-doubles. She helped BYU win the 2000 MWC Tournament title by upsetting No. 4 Colorado State in Fort Collins to end the Rams' nation-best 44-match home winning streak.
The Cougars defeated teams ranked No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 last year and again advanced to the sweet-16 of the NCAA tournament with a 26-7 record before losing to No. 5 Arizona.
While often overshadowed by the attention given to her All-American counterpart in the middle, Jackie was herself an All-American-caliber player. She finished her career with 896 kills, 643 digs and 431 blocks. When BYU played at Sacramento State during her senior year, Jackie recorded a double-double with 14 kills and 10 digs in front of her family and hometown followers.
"Jackie made a major contribution to our team's success," Michaelis says. "She was a very versatile offensive player and among the best blockers in the country. We were very fortunate to have Jackie and Nina in the middle the past three years."
A team captain, Jackie had 16 double-figure kill matches as a senior to help BYU earn an NCAA bid all four years she played.
"I love playing volleyball," she says. "It's sad that my college playing career is over."
One thing Jackie hasn't been sad about is not following her three older sisters into competitive swimming. But, then again, she's never was one to make waves.