Cutting through the loud myriad of noises at last night’s Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Cup was Cherry Rondina’s singing.
Slumped over on one of the hallways of the FilOil Flying V Centre, a sweat-soaked Rondina basked in her second indoor championship experience.
“Sobrang saya lang. Walang ibang feeling,” Rondina yelled when asked about the state of euphoria she was in.
Minutes before she was celebrating, the 20-year-old open spiker was thrown right into the thick of the biggest game of the season.
Petron needed to win the fourth set of Game Two of the PSL Finals after blowing the last two sets and allowing the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers to get their hopes up for a Game Three.
The Blaze Spikers, however, were in a rut. Their offense and had stalled and gave the defending champs room to tie the match at 18. That was when Petron head coach Shaq Delos Santos called Sisi Rondina’s number. In a flash, the UST standout scored four consecutive points and pushed Petron to the lead, 22-18, and keyed their run to a fifth set.
This had been Rondina’s role on Petron the entire conference: Come off the bench when the Blaze Spikers struggle to score. Other players of her caliber would have wilted on the bench and scoffed at not being a starter.
But not Rondina, who pumped out a team-high 16 points in the title-clinching win. Known for her boundless on-court energy, Rondina was Petron’s catalyst.
She was not Petron’s fuel. She was more of their emergency Nitrous can.
Adding a second club title to her trophy case filled with beach volleyball accomplishments, Rondina relished the thought of making her family back in Cebu proud.
“Sobrang saya. Another championship nanaman ‘yung natanggap ko. Inisip ko na uuwi nanaman ako sa amin na may dalang ngiti. Para ma-proud na ulet ‘yung family ko,” the native of Compostela, Cebu told Tiebreaker Times.
“Gumising ako kaninang umaga na iniisip na hindi akong pwedeng umuwi na talo. Isang kembot na lang. Inisip ko na amin na. Hindi ko inisip na may Game Three pa.”
Describing her role on the team, Rondina revealed she never had qualms about her reduced playing time.
“Hindi ko iniisip na hindi ako starting six. Hindi naman sa inisip ko na may mas better pa sa akin, I took it na maybe mas may gamit sa akin in a different situation tulad nga kanina, hugot,” the 5-foot-5 spiker furthered.
“‘Yun ‘yung always kong iniisip naman – na kapag binigay sa akin ‘yung opportunity, bigay ko na.”
Everything about the championship experience felt new for Rondina. Instead of sand, she had confetti draped all over her. Instead of fighting through intense heat exhaustion and having to individually carry a pair, Rondina fought through emotions and corporate pressure with a whole team behind her.
Still with years left in her career, Rondina can finally call herself a champion.