Kailangan kong maging all-around (player) -- Jaja Santiago
Mark Escarlote on Mar 23, 2017 09:28 AM
National University middle Jaja Santiago showed her versatility in leading the Lady Bulldogs past Ateneo de Manila.
Jaja Santiago was up to the task given to her by National University head coach Roger Gorayeb.
Even at a towering height of 6-foot-5, Santiago can also play floor defense when Gorayeb opted to keep his liberos in the doghouse in the first three sets of the Lady Bulldogs' close-shaved, 17-25, 25-23, 22-25, 25-21, 15-13, victory over the Ateneo de Manila Lady Eagles.
Santiago blasted 25 points in her usual explosive outing to help the NU strengthen its bid for a Final Four berth in the 79th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
But what was impressive in the fourth year middle’s outing was her floor defense where she had seven digs in 13 attempts.
“Maganda ang kinalabasan ng game kahit na alam namin na kulang kami kasi ‘yun nga wala kaming libero,” said Santiago.
Gorayeb benched liberos Gayle Valdez and Joni Chavez in the first three sets as a suspension for their bad outing in a four-set win over University of the East last Sunday. NU survived the assault of the Lady Eagles saving a set in the first two frames.
Gorayeb fielded Valdez in the fourth and fifth when the Lady Bulldogs made their move to complete an elims head-to-head sweep against Ateneo and in the process improved their record to 7-4 at solo third spot behind the semis-bound Lady Eagles (9-2) and defending champions De La Salle University (8-2).
“Challenge din kasi ni coach na kailangan niyo maka-receive, kailangan niyo makadepensa wala kayong libero,” Santiago, who unleashed 16 kills and 8 kill blocks. “Nakita namin na hindi namin kailangan umasa, I mean, hindi namin kailangan maghanap ng wala, kailangan lang talaga magtulung-tulong makaron ng teamwork para mas umangat ang laro namin.”
Santiago, who led Foton to back-to-back Philippine Superliga Grand Prix titles and consecutive V-League Collegiate Conference crowns during the offseason aside from seeing action in the Asian Women’s Club Championship and 2016 FIVB World Club Championship, accepted the task given by her mentor.
“Up naman ako sa challenge kasi ‘yun nga katulad doon sa Foton hindi rin ako nilalabas so kailangan in-accept ko na sa sarili ko na kailangan kong dumepensa, kailangan kong maging all-around (player),” she said. “‘Yun kailangan kong matutong dumepensa at rumeceive kasi hindi ko kailangan i-pressure ang mga teammates ko na, ‘Sige kayo lang mag-receive’. Kailangan ko din syempre na tulungan sila.”
"Mahirap kasi hindi naman talaga ako rume-receive at saka dumedepensa ‘di ba? At saka matangkad pa ako, mahirap bumaba para sa akin," Santiago added. "Pero ‘yun nga kailangan mo lang kasi mahalin ang ginagawa mo para makuha ang gusto mo so ganun ang ginawa ko."
The Lady Bulldogs still have other semis contenders University of the Philippines, Far Eastern University and University of Sto. Tomas in their list of elims opponents.
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