The identical twin sisters also happen to be teammates on the sand for the Windermere Prep beach volleyball team.
In the world of team sports, the connections that athletes have between one another is often one of the biggest aspects to finding success.
It’s difficult to win as a team if you can’t get along, and the better you know your teammates the better off you’ll be. But what happens if your lone teammate is a relative or — more specifically — your identical twin sister?
That’s the case for Arianna and Angeline Bergner, who do everything as a pair — including playing alongside one another for the Windermere Prep beach volleyball team.
Like many identical twins they finish each other’s sentences, they are empathic to one another and their bond is deep, so it’s no surprise that they don’t have any issue when it comes to playing together on the same team.
“We don’t separate — we’ve been by each other’s side our whole lives, so it wasn’t really different stepping on the court with her,” Arianna said. “It was just a matter of being mature about it if we messed up.”
“We want to push each other and support each other,” said Angeline. “I feel like it’s a lot easier playing with your twin sister, because you know what she wants, you know what you’re (expected) to do. You know exactly what kind of set she wants and where she wants to hit it. I just know what she wants, because we’ve played together for three years.”
As their coach at Windermere Prep over the last few years, Christina Koch has seen the sisters go through the growing pains that come with perfecting a sport, but noted they had always used their sisterhood as an advantage.
And just getting the chance to coach them has been a fun experience, as the naturally competitive Bergner sisters do what siblings do: Force the other to be better.
“From a coach’s perspective, when working with sisters — especially experiencing it with these two — the thing is as a sister you hold your sister to a higher level than you would another teammate,” Koch said. “Because you know, ‘No matter how hard I push her, she still has to stay related to me at the end of the day.’”
Arianna and Angeline know the right amount of “push” to get one another to succeed, and it has worked to perfection this season as the two went 9-1 throughout the regular season before going on to win the SSAC inaugural national championship in high-school girls beach volleyball last week.
While they were able to win in large part because of their excellent play, there were also some twin-related shenanigans that the sisters pulled on the opposing team.
“One of them wrapped their knee, just for some extra support because it buckled a little when she was playing, and then the other one went and got the same knee wrapped, so that they couldn’t target her sister on serves,” Koch said. “And they wore their hair the same way.”
It sounds like something out of a movie, but the ingenuity of that moment worked in their favor. It was just another example of how their bond has helped lead them to wins.
And the sister aspect of their game has also helped the duo face down the rest of the more experienced competition, who have years and years of experience compared to the three years that the sisters have been playing for.
While their competition grew up playing beach volleyball, the Bergner sisters grew up playing soccer, and thought that “The Beautiful Game” would be the sport they’d be playing in college.
Instead — thanks in large part to their dad, who loved playing the sport — Arianna and Angeline found their passion in beach volleyball.
“We don’t separate — we’ve been by each other’s side our whole lives, so it wasn’t really different stepping on the court with her. It was just a matter of being mature about it if we messed up.”
— Arianna Bergner
“We would always come out here on Sundays — on family day — to play with our brother, sister and dad, so we would just come out and play pick-up volleyball,”Angeline said. “And then we realized we’re having a lot of fun.”
“Our dad threw us in a tournament and we loved it,” Arianna said. “We loved being in our bathing suits, and we loved getting tan every time we were in a tournament, so we just kept playing. We’ve loved the game from there.”
Just because the sisters no longer play soccer doesn’t mean they don’t bring that same fire to the sand. While the two sisters are calm and collected off the court, out on the beach it’s a whole other ballgame.
As soon as a game starts a spark lights itself inside the soft-spoken sisters, and from there it is a rampage that will not cease until they’ve won.
“I like to talk a lot of smack,” Angeline said with a laugh.
“On the soccer field it was hard not to talk crap, because you could go on the soccer field, get a yellow card and just go back on the field and talk to the ref — it didn’t really matter,” Arianna said. “And here it’s just, everyone is chill and nobody yells at each other. It’s different.”
Though their junior season at Windermere Prep is now over, there’s still a lot left on the schedule for this year — including a bump up from Juniors to the Women’s Open.
Between changing divisions and the possibility of playing at the collegiate level, the Bergner sisters have big things ahead. And while there is always uncertainty about the future, one thing is for sure: They don’t plan on leaving one another’s side.
“We just love playing with each other,” Arianna said.
“We do everything together, so it’s just been fun,” Angeline said.