ALL the years of dreaming and trying finally bore fruit for Sisi Rondina as she finally led University of Santo Tomas to the UAAP women’s volleyball finals.
“Ang natutunan ko sa limang taon, sobrang yung 'di ka titigil sa pangarap mo. Walang susuko,” said Rondina after earning her first finals appearance in the indoor tournament in her last season with the Tigresses.
Since her first year in 2015, the Cebuana spiker had been rairng to lead the Tigresses to the finals. She won four championships in UAAP beach volleyball but reached the Final Four just once, in 2017, in the indoor game.
“Sabi ko nga first year ko pa lang, gustong-gusto ko ng makakuha ng finals appearance,” Rondina said.
“Ang sarap sa feeling pala na ganitong mag-finals kaya thankful ako sa kanila kasi naramdaman ko rin sa indoor, kasi apat ako sa beach volley eh,” she added.
Rondina scored 17 points but she admitted that she failed to contribute in the endgame. But thanks to her teammates, led by Eya Laure, the Tigresses dethroned three-time defending champion De La Salle to finally end an eight-year finals drought.
Besides Laure, who tallied a career-high 25 points capped by back-to-back winners to end the game, Rondina also lauded the strong supporting cast of the team from Alina Bicar, Rica Rivera, and Caitlyn Viray to rookies KC Galdones and Ysa Jimenez.
“Sobrang sarap sa feeling na mayroon ka rin pa lang kasamang hindi rin tumitigil sa pangarap na gusto nila,” she said. “Nag-connect kaming lahat and tatrabahuhin namin ito, kukunin namin. We will claim it.”
UST head coach Kungfu Reyes said that his graduating player didn’t only help the team clinch a finals berth but also won the hearts of many.
“Nakita mo yung sincerity ni Sisi, yung dedication, yung sacrifices. Yun yung laging nakikita yung down to earth lang siya kumbaga naka-apat lagi yung paa sa buhangin, sa lupa,” Reyes said. “Doon naman siya naa-appreciate ng tao, again yung sacrifice talaga hindi mo naman mabibili sa bata na at yung dedication niya.”
That’s why Reyes wants the team to make the most out of their first finals appearance in eight years as it would be Rondina’s last.
“Nakapag-finals kami at hindi lang makapag-finals, tatapusin namin ng maganda yung makuha namin yung crown yun ang (handog) namin kay Sisi,” he added.
“Mahal na mahal siya ng hindi lang UST community siguro may mga nahahawa na rin na ibang (fans).”
The prolific 5-foot-6 spiker vows to give everthing in her first and last UAAP indoor volleyball championship series.
“Whatever it takes pa rin kami, hahawak kami doon. Nandito na sa amin, di na naman pababayaan ito,” Rondina said.
“Gagawin ko ang lahat ng makakaya ko. Push pa rin namin hanggang matapos ang liga na ito. Walang bibitaw hanggang dulo.”