Cavite-native Alyja Daphne “Jaja” Santiago made history in Japan as she battled for the Saitama Ageo Medics to a bronze medal finish at the 2020 Japanese Volleyball Premiere League – the first the Filipino professional spiker to achieve the feat.
The 6-foot-5 Jaja Santiago, who just turned 24 this January 20, contributed greatly to the subduing of the Denso Airybees in the games held Sunday, January 26 at the National Yoyogi Stadium Daiichi Ikukan in Shibuya, Tokyo.
The Filipina import wearing Jersey #3 rounded off her second year in the Japanese League by delivering 10 points off 9 attacks and a block.
The Filipina spiker, who played for the National University and the Philippine National Women’s Volleyball Team, joined the Japanese league in 2018.
GoodNewsPilipinas.com interviewed Jaja Santiago as she prepared to return to her hometown in Cavite province in the Philippines for a vacation before again playing for Ageo Medics in the Kurowashi League in Japan.
GoodNewsPilipinas.com (GNP): Congratulations! How are you celebrating your Medal win at the Japanese V.Premiere League?
Jaja Santiago (JS): Thank you, I am really happy and proud not only of myself but also of my team. It was very fulfilling to end this season with a podium finish.
GNP: What was you reaction to news reports hailing you as the first Pinay volleyball player to win a medal in an international professional league?
JS: It was really overwhelming because as a Filipina it is such an honor to represent our country here in Japan, at the same time to win a medal.
GNP: To what do you credit your superb performance in the league?
JS: 1st to God who never failed to guide me and made me strong through tough times. Second is to my family, loved ones, and supporters of Ageo Medics. To my teammates who are really there to help and teach me everything, I need to learn and lastly to the coaching staff of the team who really molded me to become a better and efficient player.
GNP: You are still a member of the Philippine National Volleyball Team? When will you see action representing the Philippines again?
JS: Actually in that case, hindi po ako ang makakasagot niyan. I’m still hoping na part padin ako ng NT. If bibigyan nila ako ng opportunity to play for NT this year I will play naman. I already missed the SG because of the JVL so ngayong tapos na if ever na merong league na sasalihan ang NT and they will ask me to join. I will join.
Filipino spikers have shown their skills in international tourneys, among them, Marck Espejo who became the first Filipino to play in Japan’s top volleyball league after joining Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler team in 2018.
The National Men’s Volleyball Team bagged a Silver finish at the 30th SEA Games in December while Rebisco-Philippines Men’s Volleyball Team finished strong with a bronze medal win at the 2019 Thailand Open Volleyball Championships.
SEND CONGRATULATIONS in the comments below to Jaja Santiago, the Filipino pride at the Japanese V. Premiere League!
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