Dindin Santiago shines in Super Liga debut
MANILA, Philippines - In her very first Philippine Super Liga match, inaugural number one overall pick Aleona Denise Santiago proved she is inch-for-inch the best volleybelle in the country.
The 6-foot-2 middle hitter out of National University made a scintillating debut for the Petron Blaze Spikers, firing spike after spike to wound up with 37 points to lead her squad past the PLDT Home TVolution Power Attackers on Wednesday, May 21 at the Cuneta Astrodome.
It was all Santiago from the third to fifth sets as she almost towed the Blaze Spikers by her lonesome to tally a come-from-behind 25-27, 25-23, 25-19, 26-24, 15-10 victory over the Power Attackers.
Santiago's 37 - all but one coming from attacks - led Petron while Carmina Aganon and Sandy Delos Santos added 16 and 12, respectively to help George Pascua's troops clinch an opening win in the women's division of the Philippine Super Liga All Filipino Conference 2014.
"Masaya. Nakakapanibago kasi mga veterans yung kalaro mo pero wala namang pressure, dapat lang relax at mag-smile ka para manalo," said Santiago.
(I feel happy to be here. It is a different atmosphere because I am playing with veterans but I just relaxed and smile. There should be no pressure)
Sue Roces and Louann Latigay first tag-teamed to bring PLDT ahead, two sets to one while trying to spoil Santiago's debut. But the towering rookie asserted her dominance in the next two sets as she went relentless, dropping bombs to rattle the Power Attackers' side.
PLDT got a lift from Maruja Banaticla in the fourth although a Santiago backrow attack and Maika Morada ace forced a decider as Petron took the penultimate set, 26-24. In the final set, Santiago became unstoppable as she pounded PLDT with powerful hits. The Blaze Spikers went up by 5, 14-9, before Banaticla's spike pulled the Power Attackers a point closer.
But it was their last hurray as Santiago put the nail on the coffin with a game-sealing off the block hit.
Petron: Santiago 37, Aganon 16, Delos Santos 12, Morada 10, Zapanta 6, Cabalsa 4, Masangkay 2.
PLDT: Roces 21, Latigay 19, Devanadera 10, Soriano 8, Banaticla 5, De Leon 3, Benting 3, Moralde 1, Guliman 1, Ferrer 1.