NATIONAL University got solid contributions from a bunch of players, but Jaja Santiago made clear she wants the ball in the crucial situations.
Santiago praised the Lady Bulldogs for hanging tough in the battle of league leaders with the La Salle Lady Spikers, and noted that setter Jasmine Nabor has a bevy of talented spikers to pick.
But Santiago was the steadiest at crunchtime, helping the Lady Bulldogs preserve their unblemished slate in the UAAP Season 80 women’s volleyball tournament on Sunday at The Arena in San Juan.
“Basta ang sa akin, kahit kanino ibigay ang bola, si Jasmin may tiwala ’yan, pero ang nasa akin is mabigay lang sa akin ‘yung bola, papatayin at papatayin ko, walang hesitation,” said Santiago.
Four Lady Bulldogs scored in double figures in the match that lasted over two hours, with Santiago delivering 27 points.
She scored 20 from 43 spike attempts, including one that pushed NU to match point, 14-13.
Kim Dy tied the contest, 14-14, but Santiago again gave the Lady Bulldogs the match point before Aiko Urdas’ service ace sealed the win for NU.
But Santiago understands she can’t singlehandedly carry the squad, and trusts her teammates to deliver the needed points.
Risa Sato scored 15, while Aiko Urdas and Audrey Paran added 10 each.
Santiago sat on the bench when La Salle was ahead, 12-8, in the fifth set before Urdas scored on a spike that allowed NU to rotate, putting Santiago back at the front.
“Siyempre kinakabahan ako pero kino-compose ko pa rin ang sarili ko na hindi ako dapat kabahan,” said Santiago.
“Kahit wala ako sa loob, alam ko makukuha namin ito. Kung maabot ako sa unahan, ibibigay ko ang 100-plus percent ko para sa team,” she added.