UAAP: Rondina 'overwhelmed' to play in front of former Queen Tigresses

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 12 2019 12:43 AM

UAAP: Rondina 'overwhelmed' to play in front of former Queen Tigresses 1
In her first game in the indoor volleyball Finals, Sisi Rondina dropped 23 points in a win. Arvin Lim, ABS-CBN Sports

MANILA, Philippines -- The bright lights of the UAAP Finals were no impediment to University of Santo Tomas captain Sisi Rondina, who performed superbly for the Golden Tigresses on Saturday against Ateneo de Manila University.

Rondina, playing in the Finals of indoor volleyball for the first time, scored a game-high 23 points on 20 kills, 2 blocks, and an ace to lift UST to a straight-sets victory over the Lady Eagles at the Araneta Coliseum.

There were no signs of nerves from the graduating UST spiker, who connected on 20 of her 50 spike attempts and came up clutch in the third set as they finished off Ateneo, 25-17, 25-16, 25-20.

Afterward, however, Rondina admitted that there was a part of her that was "overwhelmed," as she knew that several former UST superstars were part of the 17,000-strong crowd that watched the game live at the Big Dome. 

"Overwhelmed. Kasi queens 'yun eh, may mga korona na 'yun," said Rondina.

Among the former UST stars who watched were Ging Balse and Venus Bernal -- two of the most iconic Tigresses in recent memory. Bernal, of course, was the last UST player to win the MVP award before Rondina herself matched the achievement this year.

Balse, for her part, was a key player in UST's championship team in Season 69. Rondina revealed that Balse -- who is set to play for Philippine Army in the upcoming season of the Premier Volleyball League -- even sent her a message ahead of the game to lift up her spirits.

"Umaga pa lang, nag-message na sa akin si Ate Ging," a beaming Rondina revealed after their triumph. "Sabi niya, lagyan lang talaga ng puso, effort lahat ng gagawin niyo. Sabi niya, proud na proud siya sa amin."

"Sabi ko sa kanya, 'Yes Ate Ging, sana makita namin kayo mamaya. Tayo naman.' So, yun, nag-reply siya, 'Oo, tayo naman'," she added.

One win away from joining Balse and Bernal in a select group of UST champions, Rondina is taking heart in the words of encouragement that these legends have been sending them all throughout the season.

"Ang sarap sa feeling na isa sa mga beterana, nagbigay ng tiwala sa amin, na kaya namin, and naniniwala na makukuha at makukuha namin," said Rondina.

Meanwhile, UST head coach Kungfu Reyes said it was an honor for them to have played in front of the legends of their women's volleyball program -- but an even greater honor to have played for the UST community that packed the venue on Saturday.

"Ang sinasabi ni Eya (Laure), maibalik lang namin 'yung mga Tomasino na andiyan," said Reyes. "Sabi nga ng isa, 'Coach, salamat at pinagkita-kita mo ulit kaming mga alumni.'"

"Siyempre, yung makita mo yung ganoong message ng mga Tomasino, parang ito na yung nagiging reunion nila. Sabi nga, sa medyo matagal na panahon na nagsa-sakripisyo kami, andito na yung oras na kami naman," he said. 

Another huge crowd is expected on Wednesday, when the Tigresses gun for the title clincher against Ateneo in Game 2 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

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