All 12 players made title possible

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    By JOSHUA DEERE

    While Casey Jennings spent his time in 1995 figuring out where his volleyball future would carry him after two years at Golden West Junior College, his future Cougar teammate Scott Bunker was wondering if he even belonged on BYU’s team.

    “I just didn’t think I was good enough,” Bunker said. “I thought it was a waste of my time.”

    But when the Cougars celebrated on the floor May 8 in UCLA’s Pauley Pavillion, seconds after Ossie Antonetti slammed the door on Long Beach State’s chances for a national championship, Bunker and Jennings knew they had found their place.

    “I don’t think it’s anything you could describe,” Jennings said about winning the national championship. “It shows that it is possible to do stuff like accomplish your dreams.”

    The places Bunker and Jennings took on the team were ones of leadership, both on and off the court.

    “Casey is the best competitor on our team,” Bunker said. “He has the most fire. He always gives 100 percent.”

    Jennings said he felt it was his role to fire the team members up when they needed a boost, and to mellow them out when they needed to relax.

    Likewise, Jennings said Bunker was one of the hardest workers on the team, and one of the best at getting the job done.

    “Scott is a hammer,” Jennings said. But Jennings added that Bunker’s influence off the court was just as important as on the court.

    He said everyone referred to Bunker as “the prophet” because of his spiritual leadership and stalwart personality.

    Bunker’s roommate, Brad Crist, 24, from Bountiful, agrees.

    “The greatest thing about Scott is just the example that he is for his roommates, all of his friends and for his family. You never hear a negative word come out of his mouth about anything.”

    Crist said no matter what is going on in any aspect of Bunker’s life, he never lets anything get him down.

    “He really has his life in order, even with as hectic as volleyball is,” he said.

    Although he was first-team all league and the team’s most valuable player at Orange Glen High School in Escondido, Calif., Bunker said he did not have dreams of playing volleyball in college. In fact he came to BYU on an LDS Businessman’s academic scholarship.

    But Bunker said his competitive nature drew him back to the court, where he walked on as a freshman. He said he soon found that competition on the Cougar squad was tough, and only decided to stick with it thanks to an encouraging phone call from his parents.

    Jennings also received national recognition in high school, earning All-American honors as a sophomore and a senior at Clark High School in Elko, Nevada.

    But Jennings said it is hard to get recruited out of Nevada by Division I schools, so his dream of playing college volleyball took him to Golden West Junior College in Orange County, Calif.

    Both Bunker and Jennings said even though BYU has had some great teams in recent years, the difference this year was the team unity.

    “Our whole team just got along really well this year,” Jennings said. “Most people would think that the guys on the bench would feel left out. I don’t think it could have been done without all 12 guys.”

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