MANILA, Philippines -- Game recognizes game.
University of Santo Tomas icon Venus Bernal had nothing but words of praise for the team's current captain, Sisi Rondina, who won the Most Valuable Player award for the UAAP Season 81 women's volleyball tournament.
Before Rondina won the league's top individual prize this year, Bernal was the last UST player to earn MVP honors -- and it was all the way back in Season 69, when she led the Golden Tigresses to the crown.
"Si Sisi, yun nga, all out yung binibigay niya talaga every game, so deserve naman talaga niya na makuha yung MVP na award this year," Bernal said in a chance interview ahead of Game 1 at the Araneta Coliseum.
Rondina has been nothing short of sensational for UST in Season 81. In her final year in the UAAP, she led the league in scoring with a total of 259 points, while converting 33.38% of her attacks. She also contributed 3.98 digs per set, good for ninth in the league.
Bernal has long seen how Rondina goes all out for their alma mater, and so she is not surprised at the Cebu native's feats of athleticism.
"Okay naman 'yung height niya," Bernal said of Rondina. "Tsaka 'di mo rin mapapansin yung height niya kasi once na tumalon na siya, parang mas mataas pa siya sa akin."
"Natutuwa lang din ako talaga sa liit ng body niya na yun, kung saan nanggagaling yung lakas niya na tumatagal hanggang 5th set," she added.
Rondina has now ended UST's 12-year wait for its next women's volleyball MVP, and her next goal is to lead the Golden Tigresses to its first crown since 2009.
For Bernal, that is far more important.
"'Yung MVP, hindi ko naman siya naiisip talaga. Ang gusto kong maibalik sa UST is yung Finals, yung championship talaga," she stressed.
Rondina lived up to the hype in Game 1 of the Finals, unloading 23 points to power UST to a 25-17, 25-16, 25-20 triumph.
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