Finals-bound Sisi Rondina, UST far from done
MANILA, Philippines—Cherry Rondina is as relentless as they come and she has no plans of slowing down.
Rondina has been University of Santo Tomas’ talisman for the past two years and was one of the best players the school has seen for the past half decade, but all that reputation only garnered her just one Final Four appearance—until the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament.
Rondina finally broke the ceiling as she led the Golden Tigresses to their second Final Four in five years and their first finals appearance in eight years, and it was all thanks to the Cherry Bomb’s unstoppable desire to win.
UST’s skipper helped lead the Golden Tigresses to a five-set win over defending champion De La Salle, 25-19, 25-19, 20-25, 23-25, 15-10, Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned in the past five years was that you never stop working on your dream, no quitting,” said Rondina in Filipino. “I said in my first year with UST that I really wanted to get to the finals, but that’s not my only goal.”
Rondina’ first year with UST saw the Golden Tigresses miss out on the Final Four after losing to Far Eastern University in a playoff for the fourth spot before a sixth-place finish in Season 78.
UST turned things around in Season 79 where it wound up in third with a 9-5 card before losing to eventual champion La Salle in the semifinals.
Season 80 marked UST’s worst finish in the past five years after finishing in seventh with a 4-10 slate despite Rondina’s individual performance that saw her become the league’s Best Scorer with an average of 21.1 points across the 14 games.
Still, Rondina remains as the consistent force for UST, replicating her individual success in Season 81. The only difference is that this time, Rondina has a super sidekick in rookie Eya Laure.
Last year, Milena Alessandrini emerged as the league’s top rookie but the Fil-Italian hitter dealt with a shoulder injury that sidelined her for much of the tournament.
Alessandrini suffered another injury just four games into this season that left Laure to assume the second star role behind Rondina and she exceeded expectations after becoming the tournament’s No. 2 scorer.
There was also the renaissance of setter Alina Bicar, who was stellar against the Lady Spikers with 23 excellent sets and 15 excellent digs, and fellow graduating senior Rica Rivera, who had 21 excellent digs and 21 successful receptions.
“It’s an amazing feeling that you have teammates like them who don’t stop believing and continue to work on their dreams as well,” said Rondina, who had 17 points against La Salle. “We connected with each other and we will work on this. We will claim it.”
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