Rondina the big difference in game 1

SISI Rondina stood tall in Game 1 of the UAAP women’s volleyball championship.

Putting up a show in front of a yellow-clad faithful, the 5-foot-6 Rondina displayed the maturity in her game in University of Santo Tomas’ masterful series-opening 25-17, 25-20, 25-16 win over Ateneo Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Efficient as ever, Rondina went 20-of-50 attacks for an impressive 40 percent clip, leaving the Lady Eagles scrambling for  net defense.

“Ang masasabi ko lang kasi sa palo ko ngayon nilagyan ko lang siya ng variation and nakikinig ako sa mga bata at mga coaches namin na hindi lahat malakas, hindi lahat brasuhan, kailangan utakan,” said Rondina, who had a match-high 23 points for the Tigresses.

Not only that. Rondina accounted all of UST’s two blocks, which all came in the first set against Ateneo’s Bea de Leon and Kat Tolentino.

The soon-to-be-crowned MVP also collected 12 digs and had five receptions for a good measure.

Rondina had a slow start, but it hardly mattered, as the Tigresses were clearly the aggressor all throughout the one-hour, 27-minute match.

“Kanina (Game 1) lumabas yung panggigil ko buti na lang na-compose ko ang sarili ko,” said Rondina. “Wala akong ibang inisip kundi lulusot ‘to, pupuntos ‘to para sa team ko.”

Just like in its last six wins, it was team play that keyed UST’s conquest in the opener, a testament that Rondina has getting a lot of needed help from her teammates.

“Kung paano na lang namin ika-counter yung atake namin sa kanila dahil yung depensa nila dun kami nagbibigay din ng extra time para ma-counter namin kung gaano sila kagaling mag-block, kung paano kami makakakuha ng second chance point,” said Tigresses mentor Kungfu Reyes.

UST hopes to end a nine-year title drought - and annex its 15th championship overall - when the best-of-three series shifts to the Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday.  It will be also the formal coronation of Rondina as the Season 81 MVP - and if everything falls into place, a champion in her final year.