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Ateneo Lady Eagles in unison: ‘Sisi Rondina made everything so much harder’

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Tiebreaker Times Ateneo Lady Eagles in unison: 'Sisi Rondina made everything so much harder' ADMU News UAAP UST Volleyball  UAAP Season 81 Women's Volleyball UAAP Season 81 Oliver Almadro Cherry Rondina Bea De Leon Ateneo Women's Volleyball

It’s a known fact now that Sisi Rondina was first scouted and recruited by the Ateneo de Manila University.

“‘Di pa ako coach ng women’s team, I’ve been recruiting her for Ateneo. ‘Di lang talaga natuloy,” recalled Almadro, who was then-head coach of the Blue Eagles.

“You can ask her. Ako ‘yung unang-unang nag-recruit sa kanya from here.”

After things fell through with the Lady Eagles, Rondina chose to accept the University of Santo Tomas’ offer.

Five years later, as some Ateneo officials admitted, not bringing in in Rondina became one of their biggest regrets. The 5-foot-6 Cebuana blossomed into one of the most explosive attackers in the UAAP.

In her final year, Rondina earned MVP honors and nearly willed her Tigresses to the UAAP Season 81 Women’s Volleyball title against Ateneo.

The Lady Eagles won the crown, but not before Rondina gave them a scare.

“She made everything so much harder.

“Kung alam lang niya kung gaano ako sinigawan ni coach (Oliver Almadro) dahil hindi ko makuha ‘yung spikes niya na sobrang deep cross,” reflected Finals MVP Bea De Leon, who had numerous battles with Rondina both in indoor and beach volleyball.

De Leon would dominate the heads-up record with Rondina on the Taraflex, while Rondina owned De Leon on the sand court.

And after years of battle, De Leon made sure to tell Rondina how much she respects her as a competitor. Captain to captain.

Tiebreaker Times Ateneo Lady Eagles in unison: 'Sisi Rondina made everything so much harder' ADMU News UAAP UST Volleyball  UAAP Season 81 Women's Volleyball UAAP Season 81 Oliver Almadro Cherry Rondina Bea De Leon Ateneo Women's Volleyball

“I just wanted to let her know that this shouldn’t define her career and what she has accomplished. Imagine she’s five-foot-six? But I mean, that talent, that heart, and she led her team here. Of course, she had Eya (Laure), but imagine, tinrabaho niya ‘yan for five years. And she wasn’t even supposed to be indoor, right? Grabe siya,” expressed De Leon, one of Ateneo’s four captains.

“I just wanted to let her know how much I respected her as an opponent.”

Perhaps the most telling tribute to Rondina came from Almadro himself.

However, unlike Almadro’s other successful recruitment stories like Cha Cruz and Chie Saet, Rondina was simply meant to be a Thomasian.

“‘Di lang talaga natuloy but bata pa lang si Sisi Rondina, nakikita ko na siya and sabi ko sa kanya may future ‘tong bata. Indeed, MVP.”

Tiebreaker Times Ateneo Lady Eagles in unison: 'Sisi Rondina made everything so much harder' ADMU News UAAP UST Volleyball  UAAP Season 81 Women's Volleyball UAAP Season 81 Oliver Almadro Cherry Rondina Bea De Leon Ateneo Women's Volleyball

Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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