Rondina cherishes bringing the Thomasian community together

Mark Escarlote on Jun 25, 2020 01:53 PM
Rondina cherishes bringing the Thomasian community together
(Photo: Arvin Lim)

Sisi Rondina may have fallen short of leading University of Sto. Tomas to the top of the UAAP women’s indoor volleyball, but what she and the Tigresses did to bring back the Thomasian community to support the Tigresses was already an achievement.

The Season 81 Most Valuable Player considered seeing the UST fans coming together to cheer for them and turning the game venues into a sea of black and gold, especially in the best-of-three Finals, as one of her proudest moments in her last year as the Queen Tigress.  

“Tanggap ko naman na kahit hindi kami nag-champion, at least na-unlock namin, naibalik namin ‘yung Thomasian community,” said Rondina during her appearance in The Prospects Pod. “Yung mga taong nawala, hindi kami sinuportahan, sinuportahan kami ulit.”

The Thomasian community, as a gesture of their support, even went as far as banding together to raise funds to bring Sisi and some of her teammates' families to Manila to watch the Finals. 

UST before that year had a string of disappointing seasons including a heartbreaking seventh place finish with a 4-10 win-loss record in Season 80.

Led by fifth year Rondina and promising rookie Eya Laure, the Tigresses made their faithful believe that they can make a return trip to the semifinals.

The Espana-based squad then shattered expectations by bringing down the three-time champion De La Salle University in the Final Four just after shocking the Lady Spikers in a playoff for the twice-to-beat semis advantage.

For the first time in eight years, UST earned a championship ticket. 

UST faced Ateneo de Manila University in the Finals and scored a stunning win in the series opener.

But UST unraveled in the next two games as the more experienced Lady Eagles denied the Tigresses of the title they have been longing to claim since winning it all in 2010 during the time of Aiza Maizo-Pontillas and Angeli Tabaquero.       

Rondina remembered vividly her emotional pre-game speech in Game 3.

“Halo-halo na po 'yung emosyon ko that time eh kasi wala akong ibang inisip non, ang iniwan ko lang na salita sa mga bata, magtsa-champion tayo ngayong araw na ‘to, atin ‘to, panahon natin ‘to, tayo naman,” she recalled.

But it was not meant to be.

“Ayun, naisip ko na lang after ng game na ‘yun siguro pinatikim lang kami ng Diyos kung ano ‘yung feeling kapag nananalo sa Finals sa Game 1 ‘yun yon,” Rondina said. “And then nasabi ko na rin sa sarili ko na destiny talaga ng Ateneo na magchampion, sadyang gusto lang namin sirain para makuha yung championship na ‘yon.”

Looking back, the four-time UAAP beach volleyball champion and four-time MVP, was just grateful for the five fruitful years she spent in UST. The sweet victories and the painful of defeats.

“Ang sarap maglaro sa UST, ang sarap ipaglaban ng UST,” she said. “’Yun ‘yung mga feeling ko that time and ang sarap umiyak ng dahil sa UST.”

 

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