At the young age of 23, Marck Espejo has already cemented his legacy as one of the best local volleyball talents to ever grace the Taraflex.
During his collegiate days, the Phenom bagged three UAAP championships and a PVL Collegiate Conference title with Ateneo. He also took home five Most Valuable Player awards in the UAAP — a feat that only two other student-athletes have achieved in the entire history of the league.
Espejo did not stop collecting hardware in the semi-professional scene, winning two championships for Cignal while bagging a total of four MVP trophies.
The National Team star then also made waves overseas, becoming the first-ever Filipino to play in the Japanese V.League after suiting up with Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler back in 2018. And just recently, he finished his stint with Visakha VC in Thailand, right after leading the Philippines to a silver medal finish in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
The list goes on for the hard-hitting son of Marikina. And with his accomplishments over the past years, Espejo will undoubtedly go down as one of the best to ever play the sport.
But not to anyone’s knowledge, the six-foot-three Espejo almost ended up on a different path.
Back in high school, Espejo was a two-sport athlete with the Santa Elena High School-Marikina, playing both basketball and volleyball at the same time. The then-15-year-old Espejo was able to steer his volleyball squad into the 2012 Palarong Pambansa meet in Lingayen, Pangasinan.
Already a bean pole with a tremendous leaping ability at his age, the Palaro-bound Marikina basketball team tried recruiting the young Espejo to be part of the team.
“Dumating nung third year high school na nag-dual event po ako nun, nag-volleyball and basketball ako.
“May time na gusto ko na rin mag-basketball kasi parang kinukuha ako para sa NCR meet. Kaso hindi na ako pinayagan ng coach ko, so nag-stop na ako sa basketball, tinuloy ko na ‘yung volleyball,” recalled Espejo during his appearance in Tiebreaker Vodcasts’ 2OT, presented by SMART and supported by Team Phenom PH.
Espejo kept his passion for basketball, constantly playing in different bush leagues around his hometown. But after a freak injury, he decided to stop playing the sport and focus on his volleyball career instead.
“Kasi naglalaro rin po ako sa inter-barangay, sa mga bara-barangay na basketball. Tapos nag-dunk po ako, tapos dumulas po ‘yung left hand ko. Tapos ayun, natukod ko po pagbagsak, tapos nabali ko po ‘yung sa may forearm. So nag-stop na po ako mag-basketball. So pagpasok ko po nung Ateneo, four months po ‘yun, tahimik po ako. Bali po ‘yung kamay ko nung pumasok ako sa Ateneo,” said Espejo.
“Totally stop ako kasi left-handed ako sa basketball eh, kaya ‘di ko na rin nagamit ‘yung left ko, nag-volleyball na lang po talaga ako. And volleyball din po kasi talaga ‘yung alam kong makakapag-paaral sa’kin sa college po.”
Safe to say, Espejo made the right choice in volleyball. Everything he’s achieved since is a testament to that.