by Kristel Satumbaga
The architect behind the surprise runner-up finish of University of Santo Tomas in the just-concluded UAAP volleyball tournament will not be around next season.
But the graduating Sisi Rondina is confident and happy to leave the school knowing full well that that composition of the team next season has what it takes to make another strong run like what they did this year.
“Malayo ang mararating nila. Kayang-kaya nilang bumawi,” said Rondina after the Tigresses lost to the Lady Eagles, 25-17, 25-22, 25-22, in Game 3 of their best-of-three title series.
After losing the final point and watching Ateneo end a three-year wait, Rondina huddled her teammates to show her gratitude for the sacrifices they made.
“Maraming salamat, nakarating kaming mga seniors ng finals. Basta bawian nyo kami ha,” said a sobbing Rondina.
The team will also be without Rica Rivera.
It could have been a fitting end to a colorful collegiate career for Rondina had they sustained their dominant win in the opener of their best-of-three title series.
But the Lady Eagles, starring Maddie Madayag, Kat Tolentino and Bea de Leon regrouped and took the next two games with authority to become “queens” again before another wildly-cheering fans.
Still, it was big and memorable year for the 5-foot-6 Rondina as she won the coveted MVP plum.
Rondina’s winning attitude will be her legacy to the team and hopefully Rookie of the Year winner Eya Laure and company will have to embrace it if they are to win the title next year.
Laure said she will do everything she can in order to fulfill the promise she made to Rondina.
“Basta babawi kami next season,” said Laure.
Next year, the UST community will witness a “sister act” as Eya Laure’s older sister – EJ – is set to make a comeback.
Also returning from injury is Milena Alessandrini.