Santiago blossoms into true leader for NU
For years, Jaja Santiago has been National University’s mean scoring machine.
She’s more than that now.
NU coach Babes Castillo said he has seen the 6-foot-5 utility spiker evolve into a strong leader for the Lady Bulldogs.
“Her maturity is really coming out,” said Castillo of the 21-year-old Santiago who, over the past year, has been part of the national team in major international competitions.
Santiago averaged 26 points during the semifinals, which saw the Lady Bulldogs sweep reigning NCAA champion Arellano University.
During Wednesday’s Game 1 of the Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference Finals, she unloaded 23 markers to help crush Far Eastern U, 25-22, 21-25, 25-18, 26-24.
“I no longer concern myself with any position because I train in playing all positions,” said Santiago in Filipino.
Usually the tallest in every team she plays in, Santiago started out as a middle blocker.
For the national team, she played open and even opposite, something that worked perfectly for the Lady Bulldogs, who are eyeing a sweep of the PVL title on Saturday—and the league’s first unbeaten run in history.
“I have to remind myself to be flexible because I’m a professional player,” added Santiago.
Santiago, who is now on her fifth and last year at NU, has been imposing herself over just about everyone—her experience culled from playing in several club tournaments coming to fore.
She recently nixed an offer to play for Asian top club Bangkok Glass, which reportedly offered P1.2 million for a six-month stint.
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