Fil-Italian rookie Milena Alessandrini is one intimidating force at the wing spot for University of Sto. Tomas.
Her presence could boost the firepower of the Tigresses come UAAP Season 80 women’s volleyball starting Saturday.
But before she could intimidate opponents, Alessandrini’s inclusion in the team posed as a threat to one Tigresses veteran.
Incoming fourth year hitter Cherry "Sisi" Rondina admitted that she feared for her spot when the 6-foot-1 volleybelle stepped on the gym for the first time for team practice.
A natural open hitter, Alessandrini’s height and power is obviously a huge advantage for UST.
“Ako nu’ng pagdating niya kasi akala ko mae-elbow niya ako,” said Rondina. “Sabi ko saan kaya ako mailalagay nito kasi noon hindi ko naman alam na injured si EJ (Laure).
“Kinabahan ako, na-threaten ako,” she added. “Parang ‘oh my god’ mawawalan pa ata ako ng pwesto nito.”
Their first meeting, at least for the 5-foot-6 Rondina, who despite her height is one of UST’s top scoring options in the past seasons because of her vertical leap and hitting prowess, felt like a competition for a the open hitter spot.
“Siyempre sa sarili ko hindi ako magpapatalo kasi galing din ako sa UST tapos parang baka pagpasok nito baka mawala naman ako,” she said.
But that was before EJ Laure announced that she will skip her fourth year to rest a chronic shoulder injury.
Alessandrini’s arrival cushioned the loss of Laure and middle blocker Ria Meneses, who decided to forego her last playing year.
“Sa akin naman parang sobrang masaya kasi may tutulong sa amin para lumaban sa giyera ng UAAP and ano eh magaling kasi ito,” Rondina said of the 20-year-old recruit.
“Naano rin ako kasi ang tangkad niya para sa open spiker,” she added. “Eh yun talaga ang position niya noong nasa Italy siya. Masaya kami na UST ang pinili niya.”
With Alessandrini by her side, instead of a being a rival for the spot, Rondina felt the pressure of carrying the scoring load for a team that is hungry for the title since winning it all nine years ago eased a bit.
“Oo naman sobrang gumaan. Ikaw ba naman pumalo ng baon sa gitna,” she said. “Sana maging OK siya na kasama kami and maging OK lahat paglaro namin.”
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