Playing a sport in which posting records is hard to do, Marck Espejo proved that he is a cut above the rest.
In his last year in the UAAP, Espejo led then-defending champion Ateneo de Manila University in an amazing final four victory on April 22, 2018, defying the odds stacked against the Blue Eagles.
The five-time Most Valuable Player not only carried Ateneo on his shoulders for another trip to the finals, but Espejo also registered a league scoring record in an incredible display of his offensive prowess, determination and heart.
Espejo did that two years ago in the UAAP Season 80 semifinals against twice-to-beat Far Eastern University on a balmy Saturday morning.
Fans at Mall of Asia Arena were all up on their feet in the closing stretch of the fifth set. The raucous fans were about to witness history unfold before their eyes.
Playing in his final year for the Blue and White, Espejo knew that their three-year reign was hanging in the balance.
The Blue Eagles survived the nip-and-tuck fourth set to force a decider after going down, 2-1, in the match against the confident Tamaraws.
Espejo already had 44 points.
In the first four sets, the open spiker fired missile after missile to frustrate FEU, which was already committing three blockers on Espejo to no avail.
He just kept coming. He was unstoppable.
One more final push and Ateneo would get a chance to live to fight another day.
Espejo assumed the Herculean task of providing the much-needed firepower in the deciding frame.
He was running on pure adrenaline.
Espejo stepped up big time in the deciding frame where he scored 11 of Ateneo’s points.
The King Eagle, who held the Blue Eagles together in the fourth frame, wreaked havoc in the fifth set, giving Ateneo an 8-5 lead. FEU closed the gap 9-8 before the Blue Eagles extended their advantage to 11-8 off an off the block kill by Espejo.
The Ateneo star finished off FEU with a thunderous spike to cap off the Blue Eagles' closing 4-1 assault with the last four points all coming from Espejo.
“’Yung points naman, hindi ko siya iniisip. Basta iniisip ko lang, ‘pag binigay sa akin 'yung bola, kailangan ko pumuntos, kasi para sa team ko naman 'yun,” said the soft-spoken Espejo, whose monster production in the series opener came from 47 attacks, six kill blocks and two aces.
The King Eagle pushed Ateneo at match point with a kill block before Espejo put the icing on the cake with a powerful smash that shattered the two-man block of FEU.
That was the last of Espejo’s league-record 55 points – the highlight of the Blue Eagles’ 18-25, 25-13, 24-26, 25-23, 15-9 win.
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