Jaja Santiago copped the UAAP Press Corps Player of the Week for towing the National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs to an undefeated start in the Season 80 women's volleyball tournament.
The NU's team captain bested University of Santo Tomas' Sisi Rondina, Adamson University's Jema Galanza, and De La Salle University's Michelle Cobb for the weekly citation.
The Lady Bulldogs currently sit on top of the league standings with an immaculate 3-0 record after taking down the Ateneo Lady Eagles and the University of the East Lady Warriors this week.
Santiago powered her team to a hard-earned 25-19, 25-19, 20-25, 12-25, 15-7 victory over Ateneo with 26 points on 20 spikes, four blocks, and two service aces. She also spearheaded the charge against UE, 25-15, 18-25, 25-22, 25-19, where she unleashed 23 points on 18 spikes, four blocks, and an ace.
The 6-foot-5 star scored 65 points throughout their three matches, the second best output for all scorers next to Rondina's 70. She's number one in the spiking category with 49 spikes on a 45.37 kill percentage and number two in blocking with 0.92 kill blocks per set, behind La Salle's Majoy Baron who averages 1.13 per set.
NU head coach Babes Castillo has nothing but good words for his skipper, who serves as the team's veteran leader and motivator.
"One of the attitudes that I want my players to learn is knowing how to respond immediately in any given situation. I think their captain responded right on the dot on what the situation is asking for," the mentor said after the Lady Bulldogs survived a third set scare against the Lady Warriors.
"I told them not to allow the opponents to dictate the tempo. We need to follow our own pace because once we follow theirs, we'll lose. We should not allow them to take the lead and we need to give our 100 percent," said Santiago on how she rallied her teammates back into the game.
"What I'm going to say to the team is: 'You listen to your captain. Whatever the captain says, go with your captain'," Castillo added.
The Lady Bulldog's unblemished card will be put to the test when they face the reigning two-time champions La Salle Lady Spikers (2-0) on Sunday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.