The long wait is over for the towering sisters Jaja Santiago and Dindin Santiago-Manabat as they rose to the top of the volleyball podium together after five long years.
The two 6-footer spikers pulled their acts together in Game 3 of the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Open Conference finals to clinch their first championship together since 2016.
Manabat tallied a game-high 32 points, while Santiago added 26 points to complete a massive comeback against the top-seeded Creamline Cool Smashers, 23-25, 20-25, 25-21, 25-23, 15-8, on Friday at the PCV Socio-Civic Cultural Center in Bacarra, Ilocos Norte.
“Sobrang saya kasi ito nga 'yung hinihintay namin. Kasi 'yung last time 2016 pa. Ito na, binigay na ni Lord,” a weeping Dindin said in an interview.
The Santiago sisters last tasted a championship together in the 2016 Philippine Superliga Grand Prix.
Jaja also echoed her elder sister sentiments, saying she is extremely elated to give their team its first title in PVL.
“Ang tagal na naming hindi nakatuntong sa championship and every time naglalaban kami sa championship, lagi kami magkalaban. Ngayon, magkasama na kami sa isang team at nakuha namin 'yung pangarap namin para sa team namin,” Santiago added.
Jaja, who also came from a winning run in the 2020-2021 V.Cup in Japan with Ageo Medics, expressed her gratitude to God and to her teammates for not giving up despite the challenges they went through during the conference.
“Alam mo 'yung ang dami naming pinagdaanan as a team, coaches, players. Ang dami naming naging problema [pero] 'di kami sumuko sa isa't isa -- na umabot kami hanggang dito sa finals na hindi namin inaakala,” said Santiago, who was named as the MVP of the conference and finals.
“Si God lang talaga ang bubuo sa team namin. I'm so thankful talaga na dinala Niya kami rito at binigyan Niya kami ng puso para sa finals.”
Meanwhile, Dindin offered the championship to her family who consistently watched her games in their home.
“Sobrang saya kasi laging positibo lang 'yung binibigay nila sa akin. Lahat ng mga pinagdadaanan kong hirap nawawala 'yun basta nakikita ko sila,” Manabat quipped.