Rookie Rondina shines as UST snaps 5-game losing skid vs FEU
MANILA, Philippines – Rookie Cherry Ann Rondina came off the bench and notched her breakout game this season as she helped the UST Tigresses arrest a 5-game losing slump via a 4-set win, 21-25, 27-25, 25-16, 25-23, over fierce rivals FEU Lady Tamaraws in the UAAP Season 77 women’s volleyball tournament on Saturday, January 10 at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Rondina scored a career-high 16 points including 14 kills as she simultaneously provided the lowly UST the much-needed confidence and energy boost they were missing since their first win against UE on opening day.
“Sinabi ko lang kaya namin yung laro,” said the 5-foot-5 outside hitter. “Sabi ko may rason ang lahat.” (I just told myself that we can win this game. I told myself there’s a reason for everything.)
Team captain Pam Lastimosa played through the pain after tweaking her ankle late in the first set and registered a game-high and season-high 17 points, including crucial points in the clutch.
UST’s regular source of firepower Mela Tunay finally broke her unusual silence this year and came through with a season-high 15 points on 14 attacks.
While prized rookie EJ Laure, the Tigresses’ leading scorer this season, had a rare off night and finished with just 5 points as she sat out the entire third set and most of the fourth to give way to Rondina.
Marivic Meneses chipped in 11 points, including 4 blocks, as the Tigresses ended the first round of eliminations with a 2-5 record.
FEU looked like the much better and more confident squad in the opening set, which they won by 25-21. But the momentum-squashing second set loss disheartened the Lady Tamaraws.
After taking the lead at 25-24 following 3 straight UST errors from the service deck and in a couple of attacks, FEU’s composure wavered as they lost their grip of the second set.
Tunay scored off the block for the game-tying point and Lastimosa made up for her previous attack error with an ace as the Tigresses moved to set point. Rondina then secured the second set with a well-timed and unexpected off-speed hit.
The Lady Tamaraws, who were led by Toni Rose Basas’ 13 points, fell behind in the third set, 19-9, as coach Shaq Delos Santos shuffled his players and opened that period without his usual starters of Bernadeth Pons, Charlemagne Simborio, Yna Papa, and Basas.
FEU came back to their senses in the fourth frame but by then, UST had too much momentum going for them that they were barely shaken, even as the Lady Tamaraws rallied from a 17-13 deficit and turned it into a nail-biting 23-all affair. Presence of mind ultimately carried the Tigresses through to victory.
Pons and Geneveve Casugud added 12 and 10 points, respectively, for FEU, whom UST outclassed in attack points, 59-41. But the Morayta-based crew stayed in the game as they capitalized on the Tigresses’ errors for 37 points.
The Lady Tamaraws, who saw action for the first time in nearly a month since before the holiday break, fell to 3-4, which will leave National University (3-3) and Adamson University (3-3) vying for solo third place on Sunday. – Rappler.com