MANILA, Philippines -- The UAAP Season 82 men's volleyball tournament was shaping up to be a season to remember for the National University Bulldogs.
Not only were they seeking a three-peat, but members of the team were also aiming to prove themselves upon the graduation of their seniors, including star open spiker Bryan Bagunas. Some of their players, such as libero Ricky Marcos and setter Joshua Retamar, were hoping to carry the momentum of their strong stint in the Southeast Asian Games into the collegiate volleyball season.
But NU's three-peat bid ended after just two games, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the league to cancel all second semester tournaments in early April.
For Marcos, who had been hoping to graduate as a champion, it was an especially cruel development.
"Ang sakit," he said during a discussion with other "super seniors" on "The Prospects" podcast, presented by SMART. "Alam mo 'yung parang pinaasa?"
"Pinaasa lang eh," he said.
The Bulldogs overcame a tough University of Santo Tomas team in their first game, before sweeping Adamson University in their
Things were looking quite promising for the team, even with the absence of Bagunas and former middle blockers Francis Saura and Kim Malabunga, who had anchored their past two championships.
"'Yung momentum na pinaghirapan niyo, nandoon na," Marcos noted. "So sabi mo sa sarili mo, start na ng UAAP, labanan na ito."
"Tapos biglang… hindi naman natin masasabi, nagkaroon ng virus," he added. "May dahilan naman 'ynug lahat, kung bakit nagkakaganito."
Given the premature end to their campaign -- and to what would have been his final season -- Marcos is leaning towards returning for next season, should his eligibility be extended.
"Balak ko, napag-isip-isipan ko na hindi na kasi mababalik 'yung edad natin, hindi na mababalik 'yung kabataan natin," said Marcos, a two-time Best Digger in the UAAP.
"So habang nandito pa ako, sa tingin ko, lalaruin ko," he said. "Wala pang maayos na usapan, pero para sa akin, gusto ko ito, kasi iba ang UAAP 'pag naglaro eh… Iba 'yung feeling sa UAAP."
Aside from playing in the UAAP, Marcos also has opportunities in the Spikers' Turf, and he is expected to be a major part of the national team program moving forward.
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