MANILA, Philippines – Though University of Santo Tomas (UST) split its first two games of the UAAP Season 80 women's volleyball tournament, coach Kungfu Reyes was still pleased with how the Golden Tigresses have been performing.
The Tigresses, playing without star spiker EJ Laure this season, lost to defending champion De La Salle University in five sets on Sunday, then rolled past University of the East (UE) on Wednesday to garner their first win.
In both games, Sisi Rondina had been the driving force for UST. She had 28 points against La Salle, and torched UE for 20 markers in just three sets.
"This is a good start for us," said Reyes, who is in his third season as the coach of the UST women's volleyball team. "Though natalo kami noong first game namin, hindi siya masakit."
Reyes noted that in seasons past, they would barely put up a fight against the top teams in the league and would almost certainly lose in straight sets.
This time around, however, the Tigresses have proven that they can match up to the other UAAP squads, even without the injured Laure.
"Ngayon, kung kaya naming kumagat, kakagat din kami. Kung kaya naming kumalmot, kakalmot at kakalmot kami. Medyo tatalasan lang namin ang claws namin, para 'pag kumalmot kami, hindi makawala," said Reyes.
Reyes is banking on Rondina to keep leading the Tigresses. The 5-foot-6 spiker has been on fire to start the season, and opposing blockers have yet to find a way to deal with her power.
However, the coach is also hopeful that their other attackers – Dimdim Pacres in particular – will soon match Rondina's effort and output. This is a sentiment that Rondina shares.
"Mas maganda talaga kapag lahat kami ganoon ang laro, at ganoon ang binibigay sa team," said Rondina.