ON her fifth and final playing year with National University, Jaja Santiago vowed to do everything in her power to win the championship in the UAAP Season 80 women’s volleyball tournament.
The do-it-all spiker has won two Philippine Super Liga titles with Foton and five in the Premier Volleyball League - four with the Lady Bulldogs and one with PLDT, but a UAAP championship remained elusive.
Now she is determined to crown her NU career with a long-overdue championship for the Lady Bulldogs.
“Syempre first year pa lang ako sa NU hinahanap hanap ko na talaga yung championship ng UAAP,” said the 6-foot-5 Cavite native.
“Sa apat na taon na nakalipas na hindi ko nakuha ‘yun (championship sa UAAP), ngayong last playing year ko, hindi ako papayag na hindi namin makukuha ‘yun at hindi ako makakapayag na gagraduate ako ng wala kaming nakukuha sa UAAP,” she added.
Santiago was unable to hold back tears when the Lady Bulldogs failed to advance to the Final Four in Season 79. She doesn't want to experience that again.
“Siguro lahat ng struggle ng team namin, pati ako personally siguro lahat ng nangyaring problema, hindi ka kaagad dapat susuko,” she said.
“Syempre sa game pag pinupukpok ka nang pinupukpok, kailangan lumaban pa at hindi ka susuko,” she said. “‘Yun ‘yung dadalhin ko ngayon 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.”
NU kicks off its campaign against Adamson in the season opener on Fabruary 3 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
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