Passing on a volleyball tradition

Published 9:15 pm Tuesday, July 10, 2012

LeRoy-Ostrander grad Kaylee Bunne leads a group of L-O volleyball players at the Cardinal Volleyball Camp in LeRoy Tuesday. Kaylee and her cousin Mac Bunne, who are both 2010 grads, started the camp last season. -- Rocky Hulne/

LEROY — It wasn’t so long ago that Kaylee Bunne and Mac Bunne were the central pieces of a LeRoy-Ostrander volleyball squad that posted three straight 20-win seasons.

Now the 2010 LO grads, who are cousins, are back to make sure the Cardinals keep posting 20-win seasons.

For the second straight year Kaylee, who plays volleyball as a hitter at the University of St. Mary’s in Winona, and Mac, who plays volleyball as a setter at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, are hosting the Cardinal Volleyball camp in LeRoy for students entering grades 6-12.

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The camp was started last season when L-O volleyball coach Lisa Swenson requested that the duo come back to help teach the game to a younger generation.

“I wasn’t so sure (about running a camp) at first, but I’ve learned a lot of new things at school and Mac did too,” said Kaylee, who’s compiled 195 kills, 77 digs and 25 solo blocks in two seasons at St. Mary’s. “It’s kind of weird to be back here. It feels like I should be playing or something,”

The camp focuses on defense and teamwork and Kaylee and Mac hope it brings a lot of wins for L-O this fall. The Cardinals went 46-12 in 2009 and 2010, and have been 37-23 in the past two seasons.

LeRoy-Ostrander grad Mac Bunne speaks to a group of players at the Cardinal Volleyball Camp in LeRoy Tuesday. -- Rocky Hulne/

“When we first started playing a long time ago the volleyball program was struggling and a lot of people worked really hard to build it up,” Kaylee said. “It would be nice if we could continue a strong program.”

The camp gives L-O players a firsthand look at what it takes to be a college volleyball player. Mac said she enjoys teaching the younger players and she hopes some of them are motivated to try and play at the college level after high school.

“It’s a lot more competitive and you have to work really hard (in college),” Mac said. “I feel like a couple of these girls could have a chance to play on in college if they choose to.”

For the players in camp, sharing a floor with the players they grew up watching is like a dream come true. L-O head coach Lisa Swenson said all of her players look up to Kaylee and Mac for what they did for the Cardinals and what they’re now doing in college.

Jessica Jennings, who plays in the back row for the Cardinals, said it’s been an inspiration to have two of L-O’s better athletes showing her how to do things.

“I like our coaches and I know they know a lot from college. They make me want to try harder and succeed because that’s what they did,” she said. “We’ve got to keep everybody working hard and I think we’ll be fine (for next year).”

Becca Bunne, who will be a junior hitter this fall, has a little different look on the camp. She happens to be Mac’s younger sister and Kaylee’s cousin, so she’s been following them around for awhile.

“Mac and I used to play together in the garage, but here she mostly treats me just like anyone else in camp,” Becca said. “She can be meaner to me at times.”

Still, Becca is glad to learn from her relatives in the week-long camp, which has three-hour sessions.

“They listen to you and you can relate to them. They’re definitely role models in sports around here,” Becca said.

Swenson said the camp is the best of both worlds as it allows two L-O grads to give back to where they came from and her players get a good week-long camp without having to leave town.

“It’s a win-win situation for everybody,” Swenson said. “It shows how much (Mac and Kaylee) have grown with their coaching and their confidence. They know the game, they’re great players and they’re great leaders.”

Since starting the camp, Kaylee and Mac have also begun to consider coaching once their done with college.

The Cardinals will open their volleyball season at Mabel-Canton Aug. 28.