It has been a very challenging UAAP volleyball campaign for Jaja Santiago and the National University Lady Bulldogs, but their chances in securing a Final Four slot are still within reach.
Currently etched at fifth place in the standings with a 6-6 record after gaining a crucial win against the UP Lady Maroons last Wednesday, the Lady Bulldogs must win their last two games at all costs.
“Ang pinagdadaanan ng team namin ngayon, lagi naming iniisip na wala namang masama kung palagi naming iisipin na kaya naming talunin ‘yung mga natitira naming kalaban,” NU middle blocker Jaja Santiago told Tiebreaker Times. “I mean, parang hindi kami sumusuko [kasi] alam namin na may pag-asa kami. Hindi kami nawawalan ng pag-asa na maiahon ang team namin sa hukay.”
However, NU’s next slate of games will be quite challenging as they are set to face the upset-seeking UST Tigresses and the red-hot De La Salle Lady Spikers.
“Kailangan lang talaga naming mag-go hard lalo na sa training namin,” Santiago said when asked about her team’s approach heading into its remaining games. “Kailangan namin i-push ‘yung sarili namin na kailangan ng bawat isa ma-improve, kailangan ng bawat isa makinig sa kung ano ituturo ni coach.”
Recently, the Lady Bulldogs have been piecing things together with their improved play. Their spikers have been on target, and their floor and net defense have been steady. Also, Santiago credited rookie setter Rica Diolan in setting up her teammates more efficiently.
“Masaya ako kasi ‘yung rookie namin na setter, nagagamay na niya ‘yung bawat isa sa amin,” Santiago added. “Nadidistribute na niya ng maayos ang bola [and] at the same nakukuha ko ‘yung nagkakakuhanan kami ng set.”
Now, with their Final Four and championship aspirations hanging in the balance, expect the Lady Bulldogs to go all out in their remaining games. One loss and their chances will get slimmer.
“Sabi lang kasi sa amin ni coach [na dapat] ‘yung iisipin namin pag pumapasok kami sa court, kailangan namin manalo.,” Santiago closed. “Every game is crucial. One miss, you die. So iyon ang iniisip namin na kailangan mag-perform ng maayos, kailangan namin magtulungan para maging maayos ang laro ng bawat isa.”