international volleyball

Jaja Santiago, Saitama start weekend sweep with 5-set Toray stunner

JR Isaga
Jaja Santiago, Saitama start weekend sweep with 5-set Toray stunner

UNDERDOGS. Jaja Santiago and the Saitama Ageo Medics complete an unlikely Japan V. League weekend sweep

Philippine National Volleyball Federation

Jaja Santiago helps the Saitama Ageo Medics to a successful weekend sweep in the Japan V. League as Bryan Bagunas and Marck Espejo struggle with new game cancellations

MANILA, Philippines – The Saitama Ageo Medics earned a massive morale boost at the Japan V. League after they stunned the top-ranked Toray Arrows in a grueling five-set showdown, 25-19, 25-17, 22-25, 16-25, 15-11, last Saturday, February 26.

Filipina star blocker Jaja Santiago shored up the defense as she usually does with 12 points off 7 attacks, a game-high 4 blocks, and an ace, while fellow import Lorenne Teixeira led all scorers with 27 markers.

Azerbaijani reinforcement Jana Kulan led the shock loss with 26 points off 23 attacks, and 3 blocks for the second-place Toray, which has since rebounded to a 16-5 record after a quick three-set sweep of the Himeji Victorina on Sunday, February 27.

Saitama also had a productive Sunday game day as its winning momentum washed over the PFU Bluecats en route to a three-frame shutout, 26-24, 25-19, 25-21.

Santiago tallied 9 points off 7 attacks, and 2 blocks in that quick win, while Teixeira led the way with 12 markers, followed by Yuka Sato’s 11 points.

Cuban reinforcement Melissa Valdes led all scorers in the tough loss with 16 points as PFU fell to an 11-10 record for the seventh spot of the twelve-team field.

The Ageo Medics, meanwhile, rose to a 13-8 slate in sixth place following its two-game weekend sweep, and will try to keep it going next Saturday, March 5, with a game against Himeji.

Over at the men’s division, only Bryan Bagunas was able to play for the Philippine contingent as the Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler quickly fell against the JTEKT Stings, 15-25, 20-25, 18-25.

The Philippine national team star paced the sorry defeat with 16 points off 14 attacks, and 2 blocks, while fellow import Emerson Rodriguez added 11 markers.

Brazilian reinforcement Luiz Felipe Fonteles led the easy win with 21 points for the Stings, which rose to a 14-11 record in the sixth spot of the ten-team field.

The Weisse Adler, meanwhile, fell to a 5-22 slate in ninth place, and ultimately failed to have a shot at revenge as their Sunday rematch with JTEKT was canceled, likely due to health protocols.

Marck Espejo, on the other hand, failed to see any action altogether over the weekend as FC Tokyo’s back-to-back schedule against the seventh-ranked JT Thunders Hiroshima was also scrapped.

If their health situations clear up quickly, Bagunas and Espejo can make their returns next weekend as their teams move along with their respective weekend slates. –