Get you a supportive partner like coach Taka.
Despite being in different countries and in slightly different time zones, Taka Minowa and Jaja Santiago remain on the same page as they support each other’s volleyball careers.
In the Philippines, Minowa has proven to be a difference-maker in the PVL, steering the youthful Nxled Chameleons to a strong PVL debut last season.
So strong in fact, that coach Taka heads into the 2024 season as Director of Volleyball Operations not only for Nxled, but also for the Akari Chargers.
Over in Japan, Jaja is closing in on a breakthrough V1 title, with her JT Marvelous the clear no. 1 team with an immaculate 22-0 record heading into the V.Final Stage.
Santiago has been a steady force for JT Marvelous, leading the V1 in attacks and blocks, all while being also being top-5 in total aces.
[Related: Jaja Santiago officially no. 1 spiker and blocker in Japan's V1]
If back then, Santiago had an influence in Minowa’s move to become a head coach in the Philippines, it turns out that coach Taka now had hand in Jaja’s decision to join a new team.
“Me and Jaja [had been] working together in Japan for 5 years. One year, I already left the team and then she already [had] five years playing with the Saitama Ageo Medics,” said Minowa.
“She [is] already in the quota zone. That's why I'm the one pushing her to transfer teams, especially now that Jaja plays in a team [that has] experience to be champion,” said Minowa.
While hindsight is 20/20, Jaja’s move to JT truly has been a marvelous transfer as they move to two wins away from a perfect championship.
The elusive V1 title is what Minowa really wants his wife to achieve, a perfect jewel to what has been a strong international campaign for Jaja so far.
In her first five seasons in Japan, all with the Ageo Medics, Jaja won a Best Blocker award and was named Best 6 in the V1 Final Stage once. She also won a V1 bronze and won the V-Cup tournament in 2021.
But the V1 championship remained out of reach… until now, where the 2023-24 title comes through her new team in JT Marvelous.
“I just want [her] to have a champion team,” coach Taka said of Jaja.