Jaja Santiago moves on from Saitama, joins JT Marvelous in Japan V.League – rezal404
MANILA, Philippines—Jaja Santiago has found a new home with the JT Marvelous ahead of the 2023-24 V.League season in Japan.
The club on Wednesday welcomed the 6-foot-5 middle blocker, who is playing for a new Japanese club for the first time since 2018.
The former Philippine women’s volleyball team star is thrilled to play for the three-time V.League champion club as her “new family and new journey.”
“As a new member of JT Marvelous, I am sure this season will be an exciting and challenging year,” Santiago said in a statement.
“I would be happy if you could continue to cheer and support me everywhere I go. This season, I will do my best to work hard together with my new teammates and show the best performance I can.”
JT Marvelous is seeking redemption next season as it missed the 2022-23 V.League semifinal round after placing fifth place with a 23-10 record in the regular season.
Santiago’s new club is also eyeing its first crown since 2021 before settling for runner-up last year.
Despite signing with a new club, Santiago is still part of Chery Tiggo’s line-up for the Invitational Conference in case she will be available to play.
The National University product played five seasons for Saitama Ageo Medics before deciding to part ways with the team and take on new challenges.
Santiago was selected as one of the top middle blockers of the season — part of the V.League’s Best Six — after leading Saitama back to the semifinals but placed fourth in her final stint last April.
The 27-year-old middle blocker made history in all her five years with Saitama, as she became the first Filipino women’s volleyball player to play in Japan in 2018.
She led Ageo Medics to a bronze finish in the 2019-20 V.League season before winning a championship in the V.Cup the following year.
The former UAAP MVP also won the Best Blocker after tallying a total of 103 blocks and earned the Fair Play Award for the past two V.League seasons.
Last January, Philippine women’s volleyball team coach Jorge Souza de Brito revealed that Santiago, who announced her engagement to Japanese coach Taka Minowa last year, can no longer play for the country as she began the process of her Japanese citizenship.
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