Playing with star middle blocker Jaja Santiago is an enigmatic feeling for two promising young stars, Faith Nisperos and Jennifer Nierva, they told “Off the Record” with Migs Bustos and Cesca Litton-Kalaw. 

/ 7 May 2021

It is already a great privilege for the two collegiate players to train with Jaja Santiago when the Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) held a tryout for the women’s national team last week in Subic.

Among the 16 out of 40 players invited by the federation are Ateneo’s Nisperos and National University’s Nierva who did not miss the opportunity despite the worries brought by the ongoing pandemic.

The two young prospects shared their excitement and thrill they felt playing with Santiago on Off The Record with Migs and Cesca.

“I really felt safe [during the tryout]. And of course, that includes the excitement, the field, the thrill that it’s finally happening, my dream. I’m taking one step towards that, that’s the feeling,“ said Nisperos.

“Actually, the first time I found out, I was very excited and really happy. Because ever since, that’s my dream, to be part of the national team, and to receive an invitation to tryouts, I’ve been very -motivate talaga,” said Nierva.

Nisperos and Nierva, both coming from Nazareth School – National University, expressed how they look up to the 6-foot-5 Santiago. 

“Seeing her play and that’s it, when I see her on the court, it’s like it’s very rare to have a teammate like that,” Nisperos said of Santiago.

“And seeing her achieve all those things in Japan, like, seriously. That’s where I started, it’s really possible for a Filipino to achieve those kinds of things, the ones that Ate Ja achieved. So just being with her, seems like an honor for me,” she continued.

Santiago has continuously made history in the international stints – becoming part of the Ageo Medics for three years, copping the bronze title in her first season in the league, and winning the V Cup recently.

Nierva relishes when Santiago plays for the Lady Bulldogs in college while the young libero bagging junior titles with the NU girl’s volleyball team. 

“Because Ate Jaja, her leadership is great, and I saw that because I witnessed it when I was in high school, they were with me. Like I go with them when they’re meeting, and I can see, ‘Wow, he’s great,” she said.

“I also saw that he had a routine every day, so I was amazed,” she added.

For Nisperos and Nierva, Santiago is not only a dream teammate but also an inspirational figure for them and could not wait for the time to come playing with her side on the volleyball court. 

“You get to know her, get to know her stories, how she moves, like her body language every day, you can witness it. So in that sense, it’s a great honor for me. Ate Jaja is the teammate I’m looking forward to,” Nisperos expressed.