Will Santos return?

Thursday, 01 Dec 2016
Nads Ong - Correspondent - @nadineisreal

Shawna-Lei Santos has one final chance to star for Cignal when it clashes with Generika in the classification match for 5th to 6th places of the 2016 Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix on Saturday at the Ibalong Centrum for Sports and Recreation in Legazpi City.

It was a rocky campaign for the Filipino-Hawaiian playmaker.

Although the HD Spikers managed to assemble the league’s best roster with Paneng Mercado, Janine Marciano, Mylene Paat and Venus Bernal joining veterans Jheck Dionela and Michelle Laborte, the result was still far from perfect as they lost all but one game in the preliminaries.

Even worst, Olympian Lynda Morales crashed with a foot injury leaving Laura Schaudt as the only solid option on the offensive end.

With that, Cignal coach Sammy Acaylar brought in veteran setter Chie Saet to run the show, moving Santos to scoring position.

But the experiment still failed as Cignal absorbed a sorry four-set loss to F2 Logistics in the playoffs to be relegated to the classification match for 5th to 6th places.

Santos said she’s putting the experience behind her and she’s bracing for an important battle – the All-Filipino Conference next year.

Competitive journey

A product of St. John’s University in New York, Santos admitted to have been surprised by the high level of competition of the country’s premiere inter-club league.

Santos said the level of play displayed by the imports and some local stars prompts her to work hard in the off-season and come back stronger, better than before.

I just love the competitiveness, which is something I always want to achieve because I know that I don’t have to play down. I always need to step up, to keep up with my teammates and other imports in this league.

In their playoff battle against F2 Logistics, Cignal coach Sammy Acaylar rolled the dice and fielded Saet as starting playmaker while putting Santos into the opposite spiker position and turning Schaudt into a middle blocker.

The gamble paid off as the HD Spikers won a set before completely rolling over in the fourth set.

Playmaking has been my whole life. But wherever my coach wants me to go, I’ll go. I’ll just help my team in any way whether it’s setting, hitting, passing or whatever they need. I will always be there for them.

Return stint?

Over the past years, at least a couple of Filipino-American setters have seen action in the PSL

Philips Gold drafted Iris Tolenada as the top overall pick last year before tapping Lindsay Dowd the following conference.  Tolenada left for California for a brief coaching duty before returning to join Pocari Sweat in the Shakey’s V-League. Dowd, for her part, was supposed to return to the country and play for Cignal, but a hefty offer from a German club prompted her to fly to abandon her plan and fly to Europe instead.

Santos said she doesn’t have any plan of following the footsteps of the two Filipino-Americans.

In fact, her calendar was already fixed and it is clear that she would return to the country to compete in the All-Filipino Conference.

I’ll leave the country on the 20th and leave for Hawaii. Hopefully, I can visit my relatives in Bulacan before I leave. But I’ll go back in February for the PSL All-Filipino. I don’t know which team I will play for, but I’ll definitely return.

But before Santos can discuss her future plans, she still has an important matter to settle – help Cignal finish the Grand Prix on a high note.