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Delta standouts help UBC win national title in thrilling fashion

Captain Brynn Pasin and tournament all-star Jayde Robertsen close out their university volleyball careers in style as upstart Thunderbirds pull off three upsets on their home court.
(Left to Right) Delta's Jayde Robertsen and Brynn Pasin with UBC teammates Cara Kovacs and Kayla Oxland after the Thunderbirds thrilling five-set win over top ranked Trinity Western in Sunday's USport national women's volleyball final at War Memorial Gym. Rich Lam/UBC Athletics Photo

A pair of Delta volleyball standouts have closed out their university careers in electrifying fashion.

Jayde Robertsen and Brynn Pasin had leading roles in the UBC Thunderbirds capturing the USport national championship on their home floor Sunday with a thrilling 3-2 win over the Trinity Western University Spartans in front of a capacity crowd of 2,100 at War Memorial Gym.

The Thunderbirds entered the eight-team championship as the No. 7 seed after being bounced three weeks earlier in the CanWest playoffs by the Manitoba Bisons.

UBC served notice, however, that the nationals would be a different outcome with a 3-1 quarter-final win over Ontario champion Brock Badgers on Friday, then avenged the earlier loss to the Bisons with another 3-1 triumph 24 hours later to advance to the national title game against the No. 1 seeded Spartans.

Trailing 2-1, UBC came through with a 25-18 game four victory then rolled off five unanswered points to close out the deciding set and the championship, 15-12. The Spartans entered the final with a 38-3 record that included a pair of five-set wins over the 28-10 Thunderbirds in regular season play.

“I’m graduating and to win nationals at home against the top ranked team in the country is a feeling I can’t even explain. I’m just so happy and grateful,” said Pasin, the team’s captain and outside hitter who arrived at the Point Grey campus four years ago after starring for the Seaquam Seahawks. “This team and the graduating seniors are my best friends. We have gone through so much together. I will never forget this moment for the rest of my life.”

Robertsen was a major force all weekend. The 6-foot-2 middle had 14 kills, seven blocks and four aces in the semi-final win Saturday. She then earned player-of-the-game honours in championship match with nine kills and five blocks. The former South Delta Secondary standout was also named to the tournament all-star team.

“Honestly, it’s the team that deserves the credit,” said Robertsen of her dominant play. “We talked about not playing for yourself, but rather the team around you. It was my last chance to play with my best friends and I think that’s where it came from.

“Obviously, it was pretty devastating losing in the (CanWest) quarters. We did a lot of reflecting and connecting as a group. We got a chance to rest and recuperate while everyone else was still playing and we needed to figure out what was going to make us better than the rest of the competition. Our biggest strength is we are 23 (players) strong. Our depth is insane and when you practice against each other for two weeks and come out of it the best in the country, that’s a huge testament.”

It was the first time UBC has hosted nationals in nearly three decades.

Head coach Doug Reimer’s decorated coaching career now includes 10 USport titles.

“It’s the first one of those 10 championship titles that I’ve won in a home gym and first time in 26 years to even have nationals on home court,” he said. “We had to string together three really good matches in three days after we hadn’t performed that well, so it’s pretty incredible from that point of view.”