MANILA, Philippines -- Halfway through the UAAP Season 81 women's volleyball tournament, the tandem of Sisi Rondina and Eya Laure has proven to be nearly unstoppable for University of Santo Tomas (UST).
The two Golden Tigresses are leading the league in scoring at the end of the first round, with the graduating Rondina already totalling 122 points, while the rookie Laure is just five points behind with 117.
They have already built a comfortable lead over Ateneo de Manila University's Kat Tolentino, who is third in the league in scoring with a total of 107 points after the first seven games of the tournament.
But for Rondina, it is the success of the team that matters, rather than any individual award that she may be in the running for.
"Trabaho lang eh," said Rondina, who was last year's Best Scorer after finishing with 296 points in Season 80.
"Nag-uusap kami talaga na kailangan talaga natin manalo. Wala namang pakialam sa individual, basta atin 'yung big trophy," added the Cebuana, who has yet to play in the finals in her UAAP career.
"Wala akong pakialam pa, 'yun ang nagma-matter sa akin kasi siyempre gusto ko talagang um-exit ng maganda, with the help of Eya."
Laure, who has received many an individual honor during her high school days with UST, shares Rondina's mindset. Though she may be a favorite to win Rookie of the Year honors, Laure's focus is on helping her senior exit in a blaze of glory.
"Talagang naka-set na 'yung mind ko na pagpasok ko ng women's, yung pagtulong talaga 'yung gagawin ko. Sabi din ni Ate Sisi, hindi nami kasi iniisip 'yung individual awards eh," said Laure, who won one title as a high school player for UST.
"Kahit si Coach Kungfu (Reyes), sa high school, kahit nagkaka-individual award ako, ang sinasabi niya sa akin, mas maganda kung champion or magka-place tayo sa UAAP, kasi 'yun 'yung mas maaalala ng tao," she stressed.
As individual awards and the UAAP scoring race are firmly out of their minds, Rondina and Laure can focus on leading UST's campaign.
With the two open spikers swinging away, the Tigresses have managed to thrive even after the season-ending injury suffered by reigning Rookie of the Year Milena Alessandrini. They have won three straight matches since Alessandrini went down with a knee injury against Far Eastern University midway through the first round.
Their 5-2 slate puts UST in joint second with De La Salle University, and gives them plenty of momentum heading into the second round of the tournament.
"Lahat po kami nagi-step up, and willing talaga gawin lahat," said Laure after their straight sets win over University of the East to end the first round. "Lalo na sa training, makikita pa lang sa training na sobrang nagdo-double effort talaga kami, and fini-fix namin yung mga pagkukulang talaga. And ine-enjoy lang namin lahat, lalo na sa training."
"Nag-trabaho lang talaga kami, and wala kaming pinabayaang opportunity," said Rondina. "Trabaho lang talaga, and 'yun 'yung key namin every time na nanalo kami."
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