JAJA SANTIAGO BREAKS RECORD AS FIRST FILIPINA TO WIN INTERNATIONAL PRO TITLE
Jaja Santiago made history as she steered Ageo Medics to win the Japan V. Cup title after ruling out NEC Red Rockets, 26-24, 20-25, 25-21, 25-17, yesterday at the Ota City General Gym in Tokyo, Japan.
Filipina pride emerged as the first Filipina volleyball player to claim a foreign volleyball championship league title in the V. Cup, a special tourney for non-members of the Japan national team pool preparing for the Tokyo Olympics.
After sweeping a 5-0 run in the eliminations, Saitama Ageo Medics fended off JT Marvelous in the semifinals 25-21, 25-22, 18-25, 18-25, 15-13 to secure a spot in the finals against the Red Rockets.
The 6-foot-5 middle spiker nailed 11 markers on nine successful kills and two blocks in Ageo Medics’ unbeaten run.
In the opening salvo, where the teams tied at 24 points, Sato made an off-the-block kill which trailed the Ageo Medics into an advantage.
In the second set, the Red Rockets bounced back with a Kaori Ueno attack and an error from Shainah Joseph that leveled the match, 1-1.
Saitama then produced a huge 10-2 rally to claim the third set, 2-1.
Leading 19-17 in the fourth canto, the Ageo Medics trailed the Red Rockets with eight points, finished by Yuka Sato’s crosscourt hit for the championship.
Yuka Sato and Mami Uchiseto posted 15 points each while former Sta. Lucia import Shainah Joseph logged in 14.
Ayumi Yoshida spearheaded NEC with 22 points, while Misaki Yamauchi had 15.
Ageo Medics won all seven of their games in the V Cup, ending the league in style with 14 consecutive wins dating back to Jan. 23 in the main tourney, wherein they finished in fifth place.
The 25-year-old Santiago now holds two medals—a bronze medal from last year’s V.League and a gold medal for her recent win.