Jaja Santiago towed her Foton Tornadoes Blue Energy past the Cignal HD Spikers in four sets, 25-27, 25-23, 25-20, 25-19, in the 2019 PSL All Filipino Conference, Tuesday evening at the Bacoor Strike Gym.
Santiago anchored both on offense and defense, tallying 29 points built on 22 attacks and a whopping seven blocks to help place Foton at solo fourth spot with a 4-3 card.
“Nag-step up talaga si Jaja. Mas nakita ko na ‘yung maturity ni Jaja. Matagal ko na hinihintay ‘yun pero alam kong marami pa kaming dapat pagtrabahuan pa,” Foton head coach Aaron Velez said.
Down by three at 12-15 in the fourth set, the Tornadoes, who was then a set away from the victory, relied on their 6-foot-5 superstar. Santiago carried the scoring cudgels and went nuclear, scoring five times in a 7-0 run that put Foton up at 19-15.
After both teams exchanged service errors, Santiago yet again stifled Cignal’s defense, but Roselyn Doria was quick to stop the bleeding. Still, the Tornadoes remained on top, 23-18, before Dindin Santiago-Manabat’s back row bomb pushed them at match point.
Though Rachel Anne Daquis netted an off-speed ball with hopes of inciting a resurgence for Cignal, her overcooked hit in the ensuing play proved to be the fatal blow.
Santiago-Manabat finished 19 points from 15 kills and four service aces laced with 19 excellent digs while Jen Reyes watched over on floor defense with 34 excellent digs and ten excellent receptions.
“Sa akin, ‘yung commitment ng mga players. ‘Pag nakikita ko talaga ‘yung role player na talagang committed sila sa gagawin nila, mas maganda pinapakita namin,” Velez added.
Despite the wins that they have strung recently, Velez acknowledges that his team still has a lot of room for improvement.
“Marami pa kaming tatrabahuin. ‘Yung relationship namin as coaches and players kailangan pa namin lalo laliman. In terms of skills, kailangan pa namin doblehin ‘yung pinakita namin,” he stated.
On the other hand, the HD Spikers dropped their fourth straight game. Moreover, they are now tied with idle PLDT at the fifth and sixth spots with an identical 2-4 slate.
Daquis spearheaded Cignal with 20 points. Fellow veteran Jovelyn Gonzaga churned out a 16-point, 19-dig double-double performance.
Cignal setter Alohi Robins-Hardy dished out18 excellent sets on top of six points, while Jheck Dionela notched 29 digs and 18 excellent receptions.
Foton looks to carry its momentum against Sta. Lucia on Tuesday next week, July 16 at the Bacoor Strike Gym. Cignal, meanwhile, seeks a bounce-back win at the expense of Marinerang Pilipina on Saturday, July 13 at the Alonte Sports Center.