A middle blocker’s role is not confined to canceling the opponent’s attacks alone. On most occasions, the team who gets better performance from its middle blockers has the edge in the game.
Just like what the the adage says, “When you control the middle, you control the game.”
As continuation of the top player series, FOX Sports PH ranked the finest women in the middle of 2018.
5. Risa Sato, NU/Creamline
Following her Premiere Volleyball League (PVL) Best Middle Blocker grandslam feat in 2017, Risa Sato has had another good showing last year. The Filipino-Japanese spiker made her return to the national team as she suited up in the AVC Cup for Women.
Locally, Sato was quite impressive, too. Her college team, National University, reached semifinals of the UAAP Season 80 while her club Creamline copped two PVL titles.
— ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) December 5, 2018
4. Aby Maraño, F2 Logistics
The ever feisty Aby Maraño may not be the tallest or the most powerful middle blocker, but she still finds a way to get the job done — often against 6-footers. A good blocker with a patented running hit, Maraño’s never-say-die attitude is what makes her stand out against taller rivals.
Last year, the most awarded player in PSL bagged the Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix 1st Middle Blocker award and helped F2 Logistics win the PSL Invitationals Cup. A national team mainstay, Maraño skippered Philippines in the Asian Games and AVC Cup.
ABY. MARANO. Beast Mode Engaged! @Abymarano
— ESPN5 (@Sports5PH) November 8, 2018
3. Mika Reyes, Petron
It was a colorful 2018 for Petron’s Mika Reyes. Aside from winning two PSL individual awards and two indoor conference championships, Reyes also donned the tricolors twice, making her one of the busiest players at the net.
More than her achievements last year, it was her vast improvement — as shown in her hard-to-catch tempo and ever solid net defense — that put Reyes at the top of the heap.
— Amina Mama (@_aminamama) July 7, 2018
2. Majoy Baron, DLSU/F2 Logistics
From a lanky teenager to a national team material, Majoy Baron has truly come a long way. On her final year in the UAAP, Baron led De La Salle University to its 11th title and third 3-peat stunt.
Returning to F2 Logistics, the UAAP Season 79 MVP captured two PSL 2nd Best Middle Blocker awards, two silver medals and a gold. She made her debut for the national team as she was part of the Asian Games lineup of the Philippines.
— ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) March 18, 2018
1. Jaja Santiago, NU/Foton/Ageo Medics
Jaja Santiago is easily the top middle blocker of the 2018. No doubt.
The multi-awarded gem of a spiker was the most efficient spiker, second best blocker and second best scorer during her final year with National University in the UAAP. Santiago carried the Lady Bulldogs to another semifinals stint and was eventually hailed as the season’s MVP.
After completing her duty with NU, Santiago returned to Foton Tornadoes during the thick of the PSL Grand Prix, helping the Blue Energy nail bronze in her short stint with the team before flying to Japan in late May to look for a club there.
A versatile spiker, the 6-foot-5 tower wreak havoc from the wings when she and the national team competed in the Asian Games. By the end of their campaign, Santiago was the squad’s second leading scorer, with her 16-point output against global powerhouse China as her most notable performance.
But what solidified her stature as the best was when she was tapped as import of the Saitama Ageo Medics, becoming the first ever Filipina to suit up in the highly-vaunted Japanese V.Premiere League. As of the moment, Santiago was the second best spiker of the tournament, proving that she is a world-class spiker.
— ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) April 30, 2018