By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
History has been made.
After carrying the Ageo Medics to a stellar semifinals win against V. League champions JT Marvelous in five grueling sets, 25-21, 25-22, 18-25, 18-25, 15-13, Filipina import Jaja Santiago went all out in a winner take all finals showdown against the NEC Red Rockets.
Entering the matchup with overflowing confidence from their huge upset victory, Santiago and Ageo Medics put on a masterful display of volleyball, 26-24, 20-25, 25-21, 25-17 to become the first Filipina import to win an overseas volleyball championship.
Several volleyball stalwarts who are staples in the international volleyball scene have yet to a title; with the likes of Jaja’s older sister Dindin, Alyssa Valdez, Bryan Bagunas, and Marck Espejo.
Santiago finally getting the volleyball championship during the Japanese V Cup is a fitting culmination of her struggles and sacrifices after several trips of failing in getting that coveted title.
Aside from their V Cup success, Santiago also led her squad to a fifth-place finish during the Japan V. League Division I serving as an ASEAN import.
Santiago and the Ageo Medics entered the finals match with a 13-game winning streak and banked on their tight interior defense to keep their untainted run.
The Filipina middle-blocker finished the game with four points and seven blocks and was the focal point of the Medics’ defense.