The Philippine Sportswriters Association named Marck Espejo and Jaja Santiago as Mr. and Ms. Volleyball for 2018, respectively. While their stint in the Japanese V.League is the main reason for this distinction, both players collected a number of accolades throughout the year.
Espejo clinched his fifth UAAP Most Valuable Player award even though he and the Ateneo Blue Eagles lost the championship to the NU Bulldogs. He then played for the Cignal HD Spikers in the 2018 Premier Volleyball League Men’s Reinforced Conference before suiting up for Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler in the V.League. In 20 games for Oita so far, he has averaged 15.2 markers per game and has 262 attack points to his credit.
Meanwhile, Santiago won the UAAP Season 80 women’s volleyball Most Valuable Player award while playing her final year with the NU Lady Bulldogs. Her squad did reach the Final Four but eventually bowed out of the competition against the reigning champion De La Salle University Lady Spikers. The 23-year-old Santiago then played for the Foton Tornadoes Blue Energy in the Philippine Superliga before joining the first Philippine women’s volleyball team that participated in the Asian Games for 36 years.
After an impressive showing in the quadrennial sporting event wherein she scored 16 points against volleyball powerhouse China, the 6’5″ Santiago was then signed by the Ageo Medics and has steadily contributed at middle blocker for the Eastern Conference-leading squad. As of press time, she has 195 total points in 17 games, giving her an 11.47 points per game average. She also has the second-best attack percentage in the entire league at 46.8%.
These distinctions will be officially bestowed upon Espejo and Santiago during the PSA’s Annual Awards Night on February 26 at the Manila Hotel. However, there is no guarantee yet if they can grace the event due to the nature of their working visas in Japan.