MANILA, Philippines—Ateneo de Manila University remains the lone team that Sisi Rondina has not beaten in her 5 years in the UAAP.
In fact, University of Santo Tomas has not registered a victory over the Lady Eagles since the second round of UAAP Season 74, when unheralded setter Loren Lantin piloted the Golden Tigresses to a 14-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-23 triumph.
Since then, the Lady Eagles have won their next 14 matches against the Golden Tigresses, including their 2 elimination-round meetings in UAAP Season 81.
But the long stretch of futility against the Lady Eagles is the last thing on the mind of UST captain Rondina, as her team gears up for its best-of-3 showdown against Ateneo in the women's volleyball title series.
Game 1 is on Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum.
"Past na 'yun," said Rondina of their 14-match losing streak. "Iba na usapan ngayon."
The Golden Tigresses very nearly got one over the Lady Eagles in the elimination round. They were ahead by two sets in their second round meeting on March 20, before Ateneo rallied for a stunning 5-set win, 19-25, 22-25, 27-25, 25-22, 15-11.
The Lady Eagles needed a historic 11-block performance from Maddie Madayag to spark their comeback. Meanwhile, squandered in the loss was a career-best 35-point explosion from Rondina, who lost to Ateneo for the 10th time in her UAAP career.
"Talo kami noong nag-35 points ako, pero kung kaming lahat mag-35 points, sigurado mananalo kami," Rondina said.
"What I mean is, kailangan nga namin ang isa't isa," she explained. "We got each other's back."
Rather than think of the long losing streak or dwell on lost opportunities, Rondina said she and the Golden Tigresses are focused on the chance that they now have. UST is making its first finals appearance since 2011, and it enters the championship round on the heels of a 6-match winning streak.
"Kailangan lang namin mag-trabaho, tumulong sa team," said Rondina. "Dapat, ready kami lagi."
"Pinangarap namin 'to dati pa," she pointed out. "'Di na namin papakawalan ito. We will do our best . . . Whatever it takes, para sa UST."
UST is more well-rested, having wrapped up its final 4 series against De La Salle University last Sunday. Ateneo, meanwhile, needed to go through a do-or-die game against Far Eastern University last Wednesday to clinch its finals ticket.
Rondina agrees that UST has the slight advantage in terms of rest and preparation, but she knows it will not be the deciding factor.
"Advantage siya, kung titingnan mo," she said. "But at the end of the day, kung sino’ng team ang gustong manalo, at kung sino 'yung mag-trabaho, 'yun ang mananalo."
"Walang atrasan na 'to, buhos na 'to," she vowed.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.