Top five best female middle blockers in the Philippines

Wednesday, 01 Nov 2017
Johnfhil Valdellon - Writer - @grebennilazaro

Offense may win games, but its definitely defense that wins championships. We’ve already featured the top 5 liberos, who are the hungry wolves in the backline.

This time, we have to acknowledge the top middle blockers of the country – the queens of the net who provide their teams formidable net defense.

Mika Reyes, Maika Ortiz, Risa Sato, Riri Meneses and Kathy Bersola are also among our quickest middle blockers who deserve a mention.

5. Bea De Leon

Current team: Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles (UAAP)

Arguably the best middle blocker produced by Ateneo’s volleyball program in the recent years, Bea De Leon is definitely the prototype of an Atenean middle blocker.

Only playing her fourth UAAP season next year, the Lion of Loyola may be one of the most experienced in her league, already playing four international competitions representing the national team – 2015 U23 Championship, 2015 SEA Games, and a pair of University Games with her team Ateneo.

Bea De Leon’s greatest asset is her quickness to the ball, which is made possible by her commitment to optimal positioning. If paired with an excellent playmaker, Bea De Leon can surely enjoy a feast in the middle being the powerful hitter she is known for. She hits diagonally, which really lessens the chance to save her attacks. This young lady also excels in defense by showing the heart of a middle blocker and to just try and try to block every opponents’ attack.

4. Majoy Baron

Photo courtesy of Leo Lopez, Volleyball PH

Current team: De La Salle University Lady Spikers (UAAP) / F2 Logistics Cargo Movers (PSL)

Majoy Baron first started for the Lady Spikers in Season 77 to serve as Mika Reyes’ diagonal, replacing the graduating Aby Marano. She finished that season with only a silver medal and without any individual awards. However, this year, she scored a championship against DLSU’s fierce rivals Ateneo, while bagging the MVP award.

The “Baroness of Blocks”, as she is known, is proof of what hard work can do to an individual. After the three years, Majoy has became an example of a truely all-around volleyball player. She has the ability to score aces with her lethal, jump-float serve but it is her solid blocking that made her such an intimidating player in the UAAP.

3. Aby Marano

Photo courtesy of Noel Monzales, Volleyball PH

Current team: F2 Logistics Cargo Movers (PSL)

Over the course of her career, Aby Marano has never stopped making a mark in the history of Philippine volleyball. Nobody would will ever forget her UAAP Season 75 MVP victory or her legendary hairclips. But these aside, it is her leadership and vocal style on court that makes her a leader of any team she joins.

Tyang Aby might be the shortest player in this list, but it is inarguable that she has already proved to have the biggest heart. With her BMDC antics she never fails to inspire her teammates on court. Currently the ambassadress of the Philippine Superliga, she truly deserves the spot to be the vocal and valiant face of the league.

She has one of the country’s quickest and strongest running attacks, popularized when she was still in DLSU. Her height can also be deceiving, because although she’s 5’9, she can block like a six-footer. Her secret? Accurate and quick reaction to the setter’s play, the execution of footwork and excellent arm positioning in the block. By the way, she can also receive, dig and cover very well.

2. Dindin Santiago-Manabat

Current team: Foton Tornadoes (PSL)

Dindin might just one of the tallest, strongest and most versatile middle blockers in the country today. Standing at a height of 6’3, she is known for being the half of NU’s Santiago Sisters. Dindin Santiago-Manabat might be looking to regain her form in the current edition of the PSL Grand Prix, but it is undeniable that she played great volleyball before, popularizing the running attack together with her contemporary, Aby Marano.

She first played for UST and then NU in the UAAP, has won countless Best Middle Blocker and Spiker awards and has also played for the Philippines several times.

Dindin isn’t afraid to smash balls to the ground, but she also has a high volleyball IQ, because she knows where and when to drop it. She blocks very well, using her tall frame as an advantage over her shorter opponents.

1. Jaja Santiago

Photo courtesy of Noel Monzales of Volleyball PH

Current team: National University Lady Bulldogs (UAAP) / Foton Tornadoes (PSL)

Jaja Santiago is the tallest female volleyball player in the Philippines. She is the other half of the Santiago Sisters, a.k.a Twin Towers, and has been in Philippine volleyball mainstream since she debuted for the Lady Bulldogs in UAAP Season 76.

She is 6’6 tall, and the fact that for the past few years, she is being developed to be a versatile player similar to her older sister makes her scarier, more intimidating and more dominating in the net. In a span of two years, she has already played the middle, opposite and outside positions in major local and international tournaments.

As a natural middle blocker, Jaja can easily “roof” any opponent using her long arms. She transitions very quickly allowing her to be fed by quick sets by playmakers knowing she will be there to hit the ball at its peak. Her height even brings an advantage in the service line, for her reach helps make her service trajectory faster and sharper.

Jaja has won a lot of awards and recognitions despite her young age. She still has one more UAAP playing year left, but she has already won three Best Spiker awards. Last season, she also bagged the Best Scorer and Best Blocker award. She serves as one of the top scorers of the national team since 2015, and has already played in the world stage with the F2-backed PSL-Manila Team.