Sisi Rondina one step closer to returning crown back to España

With one game away from the long-awaited title, nothing else is on Sisi Rondina’s mind but to bring the glory back to their turf.

Rondina and the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Golden Tigresses draw first blood after a dominant straight-set victory over the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles, 25-17, 25-16, 25-20, earlier in Game One of the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball championship round at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Tigresses played hot from the get-go, pouncing on Ateneo’s defensive woes and scoring relentlessly from the offensive end to strike first in the best-of-three title series.

The graduating team captain made the most out of her first championship game, registering a 23-point effort to lift UST over the league-leading Katipunan squad.

Rondina, who will be awarded the season’s Most Valuable Player on Wednesday, said the Tigresses were laser-sharp focused in their opening finals game against the Lady Eagles who defeated them twice in the elimination round.

Not hiding her excitement to play in her first finals series, she admitted she had a dream last night of how she would perform in today’s game.

“Sobrang focused ko lang talaga [at] wala akong ibang inisip kundi maglaro lang talaga. Kagabi pa ako nag-iisip kung ano ‘yung galaw ko–nagi-imagery na ako kagabi pa and sabi ko nga, okay ‘to pagkagising ko. ” Rondina said.

“Nanaginip ako kagabi sa laro, pero di ko alam kung sino ‘yung nanalo eh. Pagkagising ko, sabi ko, okay siguro ‘to,” she added.

The Tigresses capitalized on the Lady Eagles’ reception problems as they made a living from the service line, scoring 10 service aces compared to Ateneo’s one point.

The España squad also proved why they are the top-ranked team in the spiking department, registering 46 kills compared to Ateneo’s 24.

Despite a stellar performance in their game earlier, Rondina was humble enough to admit that she struggled to get her game going at first, but she was able to pull through with the help of her teammates.

“Hindi ko naman agad sinasabi na maganda ‘yung laro ko, pero pinakita ko sa mga bata ‘yung attitude ko na kailangan nating manalo, kasi nandito na tayo,” Rondina said.

The season MVP said the Tigresses should continue their level of play going into their next game, and to leave no room for complacency against a tough Ateneo team.

“Lagi ko lang pong sinasabi sa kanila na walang mawawala sa atin, mag-enjoy lang tayo, and mag-focus sa game. Huwag tayong magpapa-intimidate sa kalaban, and lalong-lalo na, walang iwanan,” Rondina said.

In many of her previous post-game interviews, the graduating team captain talked about making a promise last season to head coach Kungfu Reyes–to bring the España squad back to the finals and take home the crown that has evaded them for almost a decade.

Now, she is one step closer to fulfilling that vow–and nothing can stop her in bringing the Tigresses home.

“Bumitaw na po ako ng salita, pinakauna pa lang–gagawin ko po lahat, mabalik lang namin ‘yung korona sa España. Papanindigan na namin ‘to–sabi ko nga sa mga bata, walang aayaw, walang mawawala sa atin,” Rondina ended.



Watch all three FOX Sports channels live on the FOX+ app. For more info on FOX+, click here or to start your free 30 day trial, download the FOX+ app.