UST super-sub Carla Sandoval comes out of her shell, fills void left by Sisi Rondina
Carla Sandoval has emerged from her shell in Sisi Rondina's absence. Dante Peralta

NO Rondina, no problem.

University of Santo Tomas remained unbeaten in the Shakey’s V-League Reinforced Conference even without top hitter Sisi Rondina, who has yet to rejoin the team after her successful title run in the UAAP Season 79 women’s beach volleyball tournament that ended on Sunday.

But her substitute is making sure the Tigresses would not be missing their energizer bunny too much.

Sophomore Carla Sandoval has stepped up for the Tigresses, scoring 52 points in the team’s past four games making her the third best scorer in the league next only to Bureau of Customs ace Alyssa Valdez (57) and UST teammate EJ Laure (67).

“Kumbaga lumalabas na ang galing niya,” said UST coach Kungfu Reyes. “Hindi naman late, medyo napaaga pa nga ang (break) niya kasi supposedly mga third year ‘yan (expected pumutok).”

[See Tigresses stay unbeaten after three-set romp over Lady Maroons]

Reyes, a tough drillmaster in practice, was pleased to see his 19-year-old player finally come out of her shell after non-stop training and prodding from the coaching staff.

“Siguro nakukulitan na sa mga coaches ‘yan kaya ito na siya lumalabas na ang galing ng bata, ‘yung normal na galaw,” he added.

“‘Yun na ‘yun eh, talagang itatama na lang nang itatama ang galaw, maging consistent na rin siya. Meron pang mga error na pambata ‘yun ang lagi kong nire-remind sa kanya,” he continued.

Reyes said the UST coaching staff is giving Rondina the time to recover after the beach volleyball campaign.

“I-a-adopt uli namin siya (Rondina), familiarization muna sa indoor volleyball kasi hindi pwede ngayon baka (ma-burn out). Pahinga muna ang bata, deserve niya katatapos lang ng UAAP namin sa beach volleyball," Reyes said. 

But with Sandoval stepping up, that doesn't figure to be a problem for the Tigresses.

Sandoval, 19, topscored with 14 points in the win over University of the Philippines on Monday and is once again expected to shine when UST faces Bureau of Customs in a battle of unbeaten teams on Saturday.

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“Okay naman 'yung reliever (ni Rondina)," said Reyes. "Good thing sa bata (Sandoval) at least ma-experience niya na, ‘Kaya ko pala, ito pala ‘yung sinasabi ng mga coaches.’”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @meilinlozada