UAAP: Amidst MVP chants, UST's Rondina keeps eye on big prize

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 01 2019 09:22 PM

UAAP: Amidst MVP chants, UST's Rondina keeps eye on big prize 1
Sisi Rondina (16) had 29 points to lead UST past La Salle. Arvin Lim, ABS-CBN Sports

MANILA, Philippines -- Chants of "M-V-P, M-V-P" thundered around the FilOil Flying V Centre, as Sisi Rondina looked to serve in the fourth set of University of Santo Tomas' (UST) game against defending champion De La Salle University.

The UST fans had kept the chants going every time Rondina served in the game, which was the playoff for the second seed in the UAAP Season 81 Final 4. The diminutive UST captain did not fail them, delivering time and again to power the Golden Tigresses to a 2-1 set lead.

Now, with a chance to put the Lady Spikers on the ropes, Rondina trooped to the service line once more. As the "M-V-P" chants went on, Rondina did her usual routine at the line -- then fired up an ace that sent the crowd to a frenzy.

Her point gave UST a 24-18 lead in the fourth set. The Lady Spikers mustered just one more point -- off a swipe by Des Clemente -- before rookie Eya Laure smashed a spike through the La Salle blockers for the win. The result -- a 25-14, 25-23, 23-25, 25-19 victory for UST -- gave them a twice-to-beat edge and put them just one win away from a finals appearance.

Afterward, Rondina made light of the "M-V-P" chants that followed her every move during the contest.

"They're just happy. 'Yun lang," she said.

Rondina certainly gave the fans a reason to chant. She scored 29 points in the game, built on 25 attacks, two aces, and two blocks. This, after averaging 18.5 points per game in the eliminations to lead the Tigresses to a 10-4 win-loss record.

Not only did Rondina finish as the league's leading scorer, she also ranked second in spiking efficiency, at 33.38%. She also averaged 3.98 digs per set, good for ninth in the league. 

Yet while she is one of the favorites for the MVP award, Rondina has always maintained that the top individual prize in the league is not her goal.

"Wala," she stressed. "Wala siya."

Instead, Rondina's focus has always been on the trophy that has eluded UST since Season 72 -- the UAAP championship.

"Sabi ko nga kay coach na, fourth year ako? Sinabi niya sa akin na 'yun nga, 'yung gusto namin, gusto sa team, mag-finals kami. Sabi ko sa kanya, sige coach, tulungan tayo," said Rondina.

"Every time na pumupunta ako sa game, 'yun lang. Manalo, manalo, and magtiwala lang na kaya namin," she added.

Thanks to Rondina, the Tigresses are closer now than ever before to their goal. Another win will propel them to the best-of-3 finals -- a phase that UST has not reached since Season 73, when they bowed to La Salle in the championship.

"Yun nga," said Rondina. "Hindi pa tapos ang liga. Kaya magta-trabaho pa kami."

Rondina and the Tigresses will take on the Lady Spikers in the Final 4 on Sunday, with UST looking to beat the defending champions for the third time this season and advance to the championship in the process.

La Salle, for its part, is looking to force a deciding game to keep its bid for a "four-peat" alive. 

For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.