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Barely into his third year, Marck Espejo already has career’s worth of trophies

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Before Marck Espejo, Men’s Volleyball barely drew any attention in Loyola. Ateneo had their moments, but those times weren’t as plentiful as today. They had Final Four appearances failed to deliver championships, MVPs, and phenoms. Ateneo Men’s Volleyball now intimidates opponents – that it started when Marck Jesus Espejo dawned blue and white is no coincidence.

Barely into his third year, Marck Espejo has already earned individual awards that takes other volleyball stars an entire career to get. He made history in his rookie year in the UAAP, being the first volleyball player to earn both Rookie of the Year and MVP trophies. He again earned MVP honors in his sophomore year along with a Best Attacker nod. In the inagural Spikers’ Turf season, Espejo won the league’s first MVP award and a spot in the all-tournament team, while playing for Cagayan, and received similar honors in the following Collegiate Conference. At just 18 years old, he’s already the country’s top player.

“Naka-display lang po sa kwarto. Dumadami na nga po e,” Espejo answered when asked what he does with all the hardware. No matter how many individual awards he gets, Espejo never forgets that in volleyball, individual success is only achieved when his team shines with him.

“Sobrang blessed ko po sa lahat ng award sa lahat ng naibigay sa akin ng volleyball. Pero hindi ko naman po iniisip ‘yung awards, kapag naglalaro ako gusto ko lang po matulungan ‘yung team para manalo. Wala din naman pong magagawa ‘yung awards kung hindi kami nananalo.”

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Barely into his third year, Marck Espejo already has career's worth of trophies    The soft-spoken, Marikina native sparked a renaissance in Ateneo Volleyball. In the same season he won both the RoY and MVP plums, Ateneo made its first trip to the UAAP Finals in decades only to fall to the NU Bulldogs. With better overall play from the rest of the roster, the Blue Eagles returned to the Finals in Season 77 and faced their tormentors from the previous season. With MVP Espejo unloading back-to-back 30 point performances in the Finals, ended the NU dynasty and started their own with their first ever UAAP championship. A few months later, Marck led a star-studded Cagayan cast to the first ever Spikers’ Turf Finals but fell to an equally loaded PLDT cast. A few months later, Espejo had his “resbak” as his Ateneo Blue Eagles capped perfect run through the competetion with the Collegiate Conference title. Espejo was named the Finals MVP.

When asked if he thought volleyball would come easy to him in college, Espejo says he didn’t come to Ateneo just to play volleyball. “Ang priority ko po talaga kaya pumunta ako ng Ateneo ay ‘yung pag-aaral ko. ‘Yun naman po siguro ‘yung dahilan kung bakit pumupunta ‘yung karamihan ng atleta dito [Ateneo]. Blessing na lang po talaga ‘yung nakakapaglaro pa ako ng volleyball.”

Espejo now looks to dominate on a different, making his debut on the sand courts in the UAAP Beach Volleyball tournament next week – a venture, he admits is giving him an unusually hard time.

“Iba po talaga sa beach. Dalawa lang kayo, iba pa talaga ‘yung game. Hindi pa ako ganoong kasanay,” he conceded.

“It’s about time na mahirapan naman siya,” Ateneo head coach Oliver Almadro said of his ward playing beach volleyball. “We’re still working on a few things but chances are, kakayanin din ni Marck yan. He’s a very fast learner. Siguro si Ysay (Marasigan) naman ang bubuhat sa kanya dun.”

Chances are, Espejo’s power and athleticism will translate well into beach volleyball. It’s only a matter of time until he’s MVP of that as well.

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Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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