With its back against the wall, three-time defending champion De La Salle University has one main game plan: contain University of Sto. Tomas’ star player Sisi Rondina.
Head coach Ramil De Jesus stressed that the Lady Spikers must take care of their errors and at the same time keep Rondina at bay to force a winner-take-all in the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball Final Four on Sunday.
“'Yun nga 'yung gameplan na medyo ma-lessen 'yung unforced errors namin and then ma-control si Sisi,” said De Jesus, whose squad for the first time in 11 straight Final Four stints entered the semis with a twice-to-win disadvantage. “'Yung leadership ni Sisi yun 'yung bumubuhay doon sa UST.”
The Lady Spikers let the semis advantage slip away from their hands after dropping their last elimination round assignment against Far Eastern University in a rematch of last year’s Finals and then again on Wednesday in a playoff with the Tigresses.
Rondina punished DLSU with 29 points including 25 off attacks and the Cebuana hotshot’s intensity and tenacity rubbed in to her teammates with rookie Eya Laure exploding with 17 markers and Caitlyn Viray and Ysa Jimeneze conniving for 15 points.
Rondina has so far averaged 22.3 points in three head-to-head duels with the Lady Spikers.
De Jesus admires Rondina for her on-court leadership and inspiration that she provides to her teammates.
With Rondina at the helm, the Tigresses showed that they wanted the semis advantage more.
A trait that he wants his players to possess.
“'Yun 'yung sabi ko sa team ko na kailangan mayroon ding ganoon na mas gusto. Kailangan we want it more, sabi ko sa kanila. Kailangan mas gustuhin natin,” he said.
“Makikita natin na 'yung UST na nakuha ang twice-to-beat, mukhang hindi bibitaw. Sabi ko sa kanila, ‘Kung gusto natin makuha 'yung Finals, kailangan paghirapan,’” added De Jesus, whose squad is on its third attempt for the elusive four-peat.
The challenge to rise above tremendous odds lies in the hands of graduating senior Des Cheng, Lourdes Clemente, Aduke Ogunsanya, May Luna, setter Michelle Cobb and rookie Jolina Dela Cruz, the lone bright spot the last time out with 12 points.
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