Jaja Santiago leaves Saitama Ageo Medics to take on new challenges | Inquirer Sports

Jaja Santiago leaves Saitama Ageo Medics to take on new challenges

/ 04:00 PM May 13, 2023

Jaja Santiago ends her stint with the Saitama Ageo Medics. –AGEO MEDICS PHOTO

Jaja Santiago ends her stint with the Saitama Ageo Medics. –AGEO MEDICS PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Jaja Santiago has ended her stint with the Saitama Ageo Medics after playing as an Asian import for the club for the past five Japan V.League seasons.

Saitama on Saturday that the team is letting go of the 6-foot-5 middle blocker, who seeks to move forward and take on new challenges.

“I have been with the Ageo team for five years. Five seasons is no joke. I have learned a lot. All of my first times in pro volleyball happened here. I learned the discipline, the courage, the culture, and definitely the heart of being a professional volleyball player,” said Santiago in a statement.

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“I want to thank the Ageo management, the coaches, the staff, my teammates, and the fans. I am not where I am now without you. You inspire me to become a better athlete.”

The 27-year-old Filipino import said she will “take risk” but didn’t specify what’s next for her career after playing for Ageo Medics since 2018.

“Unfortunately, it is with a heavy heart that I have decided to go out of my comfort zone and take risk and widen my perspective in my volleyball career. The Ageo team is always in my heart. It doesn’t mean goodbye, but I’ll see you around,” she said.

“This will be challenging but I am ready to move forward and take the challenges ahead! To all the fans who supported me and Ageo team, please continue to give light and strength to all of us athletes and thank you so much!”

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Saitama Ageo Medics Jaja Santiago

FILE – Saitama Ageo Medics. Photo from Saitama Ageo Medics Twitter

Santiago was selected as one of the top middle blockers of the season — part of the V.League’s Best Six — after leading Saitama back to the semifinals but placed fourth in her final stint last April.

In all her five years with Saitama, the National University product made history when she became the first Filipino women’s volleyball player to play in Japan in 2018.

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She helped the Ageo Medics to win bronze in the 2019-20 V.League season before winning a championship in the 2021 V.Cup.

The former UAAP MVP also won the Best Blocker last year after tallying a total of 103 blocks and earned the Fair Play Award for the past two V.League seasons.

Santiago announced her engagement to Japanese coach Taka Minowa last year.

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Last January, Philippine women’s volleyball team coach Jorge Souza de Brito revealed that Santiago can no longer play for the country as she began processing her Japanese citizenship.

TAGS: Jaja Santiago, Japan V.League, Saitama Ageo Medics

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