MANILA, Philippines -- Sisi Rondina was quite honest in her assessment of her performance after University of Santo Tomas' (UST) first game of the UAAP Season 81 women's volleyball tournament.
Rondina scored 17 points, but connected on just 15 of 57 spike attempts in their tough five-set triumph over Adamson University on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena. She added 17 digs, as the Tigresses hacked out a 25-21, 25-21, 24-26, 24-26, 15-6 triumph.
"Ako 'yung nawala kanina eh," Rondina said immediately, when asked for her thoughts on their win. "Honestly, ako 'yung nawala kamina, and 'yun ang dapat hindi gawin."
The Adamson defense was focused on the diminutive open spiker, with three blockers rising with her every time that Rondina leapt for a spike. Veteran Adamson middle blocker Joy Dacoron and Krich Macaslang repeatedly got the better of her, even in the first two sets that UST won.
It came to a head late in the fourth set, when UST squandered a 23-19 lead. Dacoron blocked Rondina, then scored twice off the smaller player to highlight a 5-0 closing stretch. Rondina handed the winning point to Adamson, after her last attack hit the tape of the net.
Fortunately for Rondina and UST, they recovered in the fifth set, with rookie star Eya Laure coming up with some key hits -- including an ace for a 12-4 lead.
Afterward, the veteran was all praises for Laure, a homegrown UST star who starred for for the Junior Tigresses for five years.
"Thankful pa rin ako kasi andiyan si Eya, andiyan si Melina (Alessandrini)," said Rondina. "Lahat nag-cover up sa akin."
She was effusive in her praise for Laure, repeatedly thanking the rookie in her post-game comments.
"Patuloy niya lang 'yung ginagawa niya. Sobrang malaking bagay talaga," said Rondina. "Salamat sa pagdala."
Rondina, who carried UST on her shoulders last year and scored a total of 296 points in Season 80, admits that a weight has been lifted off of her with the entry of Laure in the roster, along with the continued development of Alessandrini.
"Mabiis na silang utusan. Command pa lang, sumusunod na sila. So walang problema," she added.
Laure, for her part, was simply excited to finally make her collegiate debut after waiting for so long. She could have been playing for the senior team two years ago, but was caught up in the implementation of the K-12 program.
"Super happy and overwhelmed ako," said Laure, who also had 17 points in 13 kills, 3 blocks, and an ace. "Lumaban talaga kami dahil nakita namin ang UST crowd na sumusuporta talaga."
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