RISING star Jaja Santiago is staying with the National University Lady Bulldogs after declining an offer to join the women's volleyball program of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Bruins.
NU athletic director Junel Baculi confirmed that the 17-year-old spiker has already enrolled in an Electronics Communications Engineering course at NU last week before leaving for Vietnam with the rest of the Philippine V-Belles for the Southeast Asian qualifiers of the 2014 FIVB Women’s World Championships.
“Yes, she will stay, nag-enrol na siya sa NU,” Baculi told Spin.ph.
Santiago's decision to pass up on an offer relayed to her by UCLA assistant coach Joy McKienzie-Fuerbringer last March was also confirmed by Lady Bulldogs coach Edjet Mabbayad.
Like Baculi, Mabbayad said the 6-foot-4 player gave no reasons when she informed him about the decision.
“I did not ask the reason (why she chose to stay)," said Baculi.
Baculi expressed elation over the young star's decision to commit to the Lady Bulldogs, who she led to a maiden Shakey's V-League title last month in tandem with older sister Dindin.
Baculi said that Santiago will be a vital cog in the school's campaign for a title this coming UAAP season 76.
“I am very elated and happy,” he said. “She is willing to help the volleyball program of NU.”
Baculi assured the school will support Santiago all the way and won't stand in the way in case a similar opportunity comes along.
“If ever there will be an opportunity for Jaja abroad, we will not be a hindrance to it,” he said.