UST's Cherry Rondina: from Central Visayas in the Palarong Pambansa to España in the UAAP

Sparkplug Cherry Rondina: from Central Visayas to España
UST's Cherry Rondina on UAAP Season 78 and her stints in the Palarong Pambansa.

For UST sparkplug Cherry Rondina, her multiple stints in the Palarong Pambansa definitely paved her way to what is now a successful young career in the UAAP.

The pride of Compostela National High School suited up for Central Visayas three times in the Palarong Pambansa, losing to NCR in the finals of girls' volleyball back in 2013.

Rondina was also the best attacker in that edition of the Palaro in Dumaguete where she played with current UST teammate Rica Rivera and against La Salle's Kim Dy among others.

"Nakapag-Palarong Pambansa ako tatlong beses and parang attitude yun sakin, ako kasi pag naglaro, everytime kasi na may makikita akong bola ng volleyball parang 'uy that's my favorite sport' kaya kapag maglalaro na, ganado talaga," she said on how the Palarong Pambansa helped her in her transition to UST.

"Feel ko talaga sobrang liksi ko kapag nakikita ko yung may nagvo-volleyball," she added.

And a couple of years after making her mark in the biggest stage for secondary players, Rondina has evolved into a UAAP household name in her first true full season with the UST Golden Tigresses.

Breaking out only during the latter part of Season 77, Rondina made a big statement to start Season 78, dropping a career-high 30 points in UST's opening game against Adamson.

13 games later of playing at 150 percent, she's now an integral part of the present and future of the Tigresses with head coach Emilio "Kung Fu" Reyes describing her and team captain EJ Laure as the "heart and soul" of the team.

While UST ultimately missed the Final Four for a fourth straight season, Rondina has nothing but good things to say in their campaign, especially since Season 78 is the year which she finally got her big break.

"Ang masasabi ko sa season na ito is one of my best experience kasi in every opportunity na maka-laro, maipapakita yung skills namin," she said.

"Sobrang blessed na kahit ganito yung nangyayari, sama-sama pa rin kami. Lumalabas pa din yung pagiging pamilya namin sa team," Rondina added.

Being a crowd favorite both at the arenas and online, Rondina is making sure her new-found fame is not going to her head, but she appreciates it nonetheless.

Now the mission is to end UST's playoff drought, maybe even Espana's championship drought as she was responsible in giving the Tigresses their last volleyball title back in season 77, winning the beach volleyball crown via sweep with Rivera.

Both were rookies during that time.

"Yun talaga ang goal [to win an indoor title], yun yung gusto kong maitulong na magka-championship kami. Siguro this is not our time and iwo-work namin as a team. Maniwala lang," she said.

Also, the former UAAP beach volleyball MVP finally addressed a particular interview she had with former UST courtside reporter Kristelle Batchelor back in season 77.

Turns out she was only joking when she said she gets energy from eating green mangoes although she did say she bought mangoes the night before.

"Honestly po talaga the night before bumili po ako ng mangga, promise," she said. "Pero joke lang yung mangga ko, syempre sa utak yun [energy during games]. Kumain lang po ako ng mangga nung gabing yun [before the game]."


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