Rookie Cherry Rondina makes most of opportunities amid UST spikers' struggle
UST rookie Cherry Rondina has wasted no time making a mark for the Tigresses. Dante Peralta

UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas sparkplug Cherry Rondina is looking forward to the second round of elimination in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament despite the Tigresses’ struggles in the first round.

The energetic rookie was instrumental in the team’s huge 21-25, 27-25, 25-16, 25-23 win over Far Eastern University that snapped the Tigresses’ five-game losing skid.

But the Cebu native, who finished with 16 points in the win, was quick to deflect the credit from coach Odjie Mamon, who pointed to Rondina as the player who provided intensity for the team.

“Ine-enjoy ko lang po pag pinasok po ako. Kahit naman po sa labas ine-enjoy ko lang po nagmo-motivate lang po ako sa mga teammates ko, (sinasabi ko) na laban lang tayo, laban lang,” she said.

During UST’s losing streak, Rondina played quality minutes as Mamon rued the indifferent plays of his senior players.

But the 5-foot-5 open spiker, who took home the UAAP beach volleyball title in tandem with Rica Rivera last September, said the key to her impressive game was just preparation.

“Sabi lang ni coach (Odjie) maghanda lang kasi may time naman na on and off ang mga players para may pampalit din sa mga teammates ko,” she said. “Wala naman ako ginawa basta handa lang.”

“Kasi sinasabi ni (assistant) coach Vilet (Ponce de Leon) everybody can be a leader. Kung tahimik po sila (teammates) ako po ang nagjo-jolly sa kanila para sumaya po ‘yung team,” she added.

During the UST-FEU match, Rondina did not just only provide the spark but also tried to motivate the Tigresses.

Owing to it, the 18-year old Physical Education student gained the respect and love of UST fans as she later became a trending topic on social media.

Currently holding a 2-5 card, UST begins the second round of elimination with a match against Adamson on Saturday at The Arena in San Juan.

“Iniisip lang po namin na kaya pa ‘to hindi pa naman tapos. Ang iniisip ko lang po na may rason kung bakit nagkakaganito,” said Rondina.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @meilinspin