Abbotsford spikers play key roles as TWU, UBC win national volleyball titles
Trinity Western Spartans setter Ben Ball didn’t emerge from his hotel room until just 90 minutes before his team’s CIS national men’s volleyball semifinal on Saturday.
Immediately following the Spartans’ quarter-final victory over Dalhousie the night before, Ball had rushed back to the hotel. He spent all night vomiting and all day in bed.
To make matters worse, his backup Devyn Plett was also sick and sharing a hotel room with Ball.
Ball, one of three graduating seniors on the team, was a “little bit worried” this was how he would spend his final days in a Spartan uniform.
“I was getting tons of text messages and Facebook email from people praying for me,” Ball said. “I really think God gave me the strength to play in that game because I didn’t really eat all day and I don’t think I could have done it (played) otherwise.”
Ball emerged to take the court, both in Saturday’s victory over the host team from Queen’s, and then the next afternoon against the Laval Rouge et Or in the championship final.
The Spartans won both games, 3-0 in the semifinal and 3-1 in the final, to capture the program’s second straight CIS national championship.
Ball is one of five Abbotsford natives on the TWU roster, along with outside hitters Steve Marshall and Brad Kufske, and liberos John Wiebe and Tyler Koslowsky.
Ball, who felt much better by Sunday, was named the tournament’s MVP, adding to his CIS and Canada West player of the year awards.
With Ball quarterbacking the offence, the Spartans had a team hitting percentage of .400 in the final, compared to .175 for Laval.
Marshall was named a tournament all-star at nationals.
Abbotsford’s volleyball community was also well-represented on the women’s side, as Brina Derksen-Bergen and Rosie Schlagintweit helped the UBC Thunderbirds win their fifth consecutive CIS crown.
The Thunderbirds came into nationals as the No. 2 seed, after falling to the Alberta Pandas in the Canada West final. They met Alberta once again with national gold on the line, and rallied from a 2-1 deficit to win in five sets.
Derksen-Bergen, UBC’s starting setter, racked up 27 assists in the win, and was named a tournament all-star. The fourth-year T-Bird has now celebrated four national championships.
– with files from Gary Ahuja, Langley Times
Abbotsford natives Rosie Schlagintweit (top row, fourth from left) and Brina Derksen-Bergen (middle row, second from right) celebrated the UBC Thunderbirds' fifth straight CIS title on Sunday.