Hindi ako papayag na di makuha ang championship –- Jaja Santiago

Mark Escarlote on Jan 28, 2018 12:39 PM
Hindi ako papayag na di makuha ang championship –- Santiago
S’yempre first year pa lang ako sa NU hinahanap-hanap ko na talaga ‘yung championship ng UAAP -- Jaja Santiago

Jaja Santiao brought National University and her club teams to numerous championships in the commercial league.

But the 6-foot-5 hitter has yet to deliver the Lady Bulldogs’ most coveted title.

Now on her last playing year in the UAAP Season 80 women’s volleyball tournament, Santiago vowed to do everything to capture the only crown missing in her checkered volleyball career.

“S’yempre first year pa lang ako sa NU hinahanap-hanap ko na talaga ‘yung championship ng UAAP,” said the national team mainstay.

Santiago had back-to-back semifinals stints in Seasons 76 and 77 but failed to bring the Lady Bulldogs to the Final Four the next two years.   

“Sa apat na taon na nakalipas na hindi ko nakuha ‘yun (championship),” she said. “Ngayong last playing year ko hindi ako papayag na hindi namin makukuha ‘yun at hindi ako makakapayag na ga-graduate ako ng wala kaming nakukuha sa UAAP.”

Santiago is an accomplished do-it-all player. She led NU to four Collegiate Conference titles in the V-League and Premier Volleyball League. She also brought PLDT to the throne in the V-League in 2016 and gave Foton back-to-back Grand Prix championships in the Philippine Superliga while earning individual accolades along the way.

But her success in the commercial leagues didn’t extend to the UAAP.

Santiago was in tears last season when for the second straight year NU came up short of a Final Four berth in a painful season-ending loss to University of Sto. Tomas. But that experience only fueled her desire to give something back to the school that recruited her and her older sister Dindin Santiago-Manabat from UST half a decade ago.    

“Siguro lahat ng struggle ng team namin, pati ako personally siguro lahat ng nangyaring problema, hindi ka kaagad dapat susuko. Syempre sa game pag pinupukpok ka ng pinupukpok kailangan lumaban pa at hindi ka susuko,” she said. “’Yun ‘yung dadalhin ko ngayong UAAP na kahit anong mangyari sa amin lalaban at lalaban ako at papakita ko sa teammates ko na hindi tayo pwedeng susuko.”

“Kailangan dere-derecho tayo and yung pagiging leader din sa loob ng court kasi naging captain ball din ako ng professional league ng club team namin and siguro yung pagiging leader sa kanila kailangan dalhin ko this UAAP. Mas higit pa s’yempre,” said Santiago.

The 22-year-old versatile player will lead a well-experienced team for the last time under a new coach in Babes Castillo – Santiago’s fourth mentor in NU after playing under Francis Vicente, Dong Dela Cruz and Roger Gorayeb.

Backing her up is a crack crew bannered by veterans Risa Sato, Jorelle Singh, Aiko Urdas, Gayle Valdez and heady playmaker Jasmine Nabor.   



Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles

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