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Jaja makes her final stand

The UAAP women’s volleyball galaxy will be without a lot of stars this season.

Defending champion La Salle begins the season minus standout setter Kim Fajardo, whose graduation has left the Lady Spikers trying to figure out who will fill in the void. Ateneo lost Jia Morado, who masterfully pulled the strings for the Lady Eagles last season but opted to forego her final year of eligibility. University of Santo Tomas regained its old luster, but the storied program’s return to relevance was dealt a blow with gunner EJ Laure red-shirting Season 80 due to a chronic injury.

In a suddenly wide-open race for the crown, where talent is now almost equal across the eight-team field, hunger and motivation might end up deciding the champion. And it is not hard to find the hungriest, most motivated star today.

She stands out in the volleyball crowd, literally.

“Now that this is my last year, I won’t allow myself to not get that title,” said National University’s 6-foot-5 Jaja Santiago, whose trophy collection includes several Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year and Best Attacker plums.

What’s missing? A UAAP crown.

“And I won’t forgive myself if I will graduate without having led the team to the title,” added the 22-year-old middle blocker.

Authors: Bong Lozada, Jasmine W. Payo, Mac Dionisio, Inquirer
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