When you get right down to it, it’s remarkable what Brina Derksen-Bergen has accomplished over her five seasons with the UBC Thunderbirds women’s volleyball team.
The senior setter out of Abbotsford’s Rick Hansen Secondary guided the T-Birds to their sixth consecutive Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) championship last Saturday, defeating the Alberta Pandas in straight sets (25-13, 25-23, 25-18) in the national final in Sherbrooke, Que.
UBC’s six straight titles ties a CIS women’s volleyball record – Alberta (1995-2000) and Winnipeg (1983-88) also managed the feat.
Derksen-Bergen joins a select group of five T-Birds players who own five national gold medals, and UBC head coach Doug Reimer pointed out it’s an historic achievement.
“I believe there were maybe two more players that did it when Alberta had their run in women’s volleyball, and I know there were a few basketball players at UVic (the Vikes men’s team won titles from 1980-86),” Reimer marveled. “But in other words, you can almost count on two hands the number of athletes in CIS team sports who have done this.”
In the aftermath of Saturday’s win, Derksen-Bergen was in a reflective mood.
“I just feel really special and I know that a lot of people contributed to this, so I’m very grateful for everyone that helped me along the way,” she said.
“I don’t really think about the championships, to be honest. I think about the success that we’ve had that’s not really identifiable by a win or a loss. I think about how we’ve grown as a team and whether we’ve reached our potential by the end of a season or not. But still, the sixth title (in a row for UBC) is nice!”
Derksen-Bergen is coming off a tremendous senior year with the T-Birds. She earned second team Canada West all-star and All-Canadian honours after leading the conference in assists at 10.35 per set.
At nationals, she was named to the all-tournament team after UBC beat Alberta in the title game for the second straight year.
“I have nothing but positives to say about her, not only in her playing ability, but also as a person and a teammate,” Reimer said. “She really matured and developed as both a setter and as a leader over her five years at UBC.”
Fellow Abbotsford native Rosie Schlagintweit also played a key role in the UBC victory. The 6’0″ outside hitter out of Yale Secondary completed her third year with the T-Birds and her first as a full-time starter, and she’ll be counted on to help the team continue its run of dominance as Derksen-Bergen and three other key players are set to graduate.
“She has a really good future ahead of her, and we’re obviously really happy that she’s got another couple years,” Reimer said of Schlagintweit.
– with files from Wilson Wong, UBC Athletics