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    Jaja Santiago catches eye of China star after turning in best performance for Philippines

    May 7, 2015
    Jaja Santiago turned in her best performance of the tournament against China. Dante Peralta

    CHINA’S top player Liu Yanhan said she is impressed with Jaja Santiago after the Philippines took a set from the Asian powerhouse before losing their knockout match in the Asian Under-23 Women’s Volleyball Championship.

    Liu, a veteran internationalist who played for China in the World Under-23 Championship, mentioned a certain middle blocker when asked who she was impressed with the most among their opponents.

    The National University standout caught the eye of Liu after playing her best match in the tournament in the four-set loss to China, scoring 16 points including three blocks in a losing effort.

    “The middle blocker. I remember her. She is good. The tallest girl,” said Liu, referring to Santiago.

    Liu did the most damage for China in its 23-25, 25-14, 25-18, 25-17 quarterfinal win over the Philippines, scoring 21 points despite coming on as a substitute.

    China survives scare from brave Philippines, makes Asian Under-23 volleyball semifinals

    “Para kaming binabaril sa sobrang lakas,” said Alyssa Valdez on the spikes of Liu, who help lead China to a gold in the World Under-23 Championship two years ago by scoring 17 points in a straight sets win over Dominican Republic.

    Santiago was naturally thrilled to hear about Liu's comments.

    Continue reading below ↓
    “Happy, happy ako Kasi may mga ibang team na nai-impress sa akin at sa team namin,” she told Spin.ph while deflecting the credit. “Pero alam ko naman na hindi ko rin magagawa ‘yun kung hindi ko rin sila (teammates) katulong.”

    Liu admitted they didn’t prepare well against the Philippines going to the quarterfinal match.

    “They have a good performance,” said Liu. “We didn’t have enough time to prepare. The people were passionate. They did very well in their home court.

    “I think they are young and they play very happy in the game. They really did well,” added Liu.

    After being informed that the Philippines is just starting to compete in international competition after a long absence, Liu said the team will have nowhere to go but up.

    “They will all be better in the future,” said Liu.

    Despite playing some of the best players in the world, Santiago said Filipino volleyball players bring something new to the table.

    “Syempre nakakagulat na ganoon ang impression nila sa akin kasi Pilipino player ako,” said the 19-year old. “Iba ang skills ng Pilipino sa ibang bansa like China, Japan. Nakakatuwa at nakakagulat na nai-impress sila sa mga Pilipino."
     
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    Jaja Santiago turned in her best performance of the tournament against China. Dante Peralta
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