Marck Espejo Criss Cross Spikers' Turf


MANILA, Philippines — Marck Espejo ushers in the Alas Pilipinas era of the Philippine men’s volleyball team when it competes in the AVC Challenge Cup next week in Bahrain.

Espejo was named team captain of the 14-man roster, which missed Spikers’ Turf Finals MVP Bryan Bagunas due to his commitment in Taiwan as Win Streak’s Asian import.

“I’m super excited because we will get more exposure this time, which is a blessing for the program,” said the Korean V-League champion in Filipino. “Us, the players, the coaches, and the whole team need to be fully committed to continue bringing the [Philippine] men’s volleyball to a higher level.

READ: PH national volleyball teams to be called Alas Pilipinas

Cignal HD Spiker Jau Umandal will team up with Espejo as they battle World No. 31 China on Sunday before facing host Bahrain on June 3 in Pool A.

Unlike Alas women’s, which barged into the Challenge Cup semifinals in Manila, the men’s side will face a tougher road as only the group’s top team will advance to the semis.

Owa Retamar, the two-time UAAP Finals MVP and Best Setter, is making his Philippine team return with the core of UAAP Season 86 champion National University, bannered by Nico Almendras, top rookie Jade Disquitado, and Rwenzmel Taguibolos as well as Team B members Leo Ordiales and Joseph Bello with coach Dante Alinsunurin, who will be making his return as a deputy of Sergio Veloso.

READ: After NU triumph, Owa Retamar now locked in on Alas Pilipinas goal

Josh Ybañez, the back-to-back UAAP MVP from the University of Santo Tomas, will be making his debut but as a libero with Vince Lorenzo. La Salle star Noel Kampton also made it to the final cut with veterans Kim Malabunga, Lloyd Josafat, and JP Bugaoan.

Espejo is eager to provide leadership and energy to this young team as they fly to Bahrain on Thursday.

“I’m sure some of the players from college and clubs right now have been playing at a higher level right now. I will help them through leadership on and off the court and embrace my role,” said the Criss Cross King Cruncher. “I can share my energy [which I learned from Korea] because it boosts the team’s confidence through the enjoyment inside the court. I did it with Criss Cross so I hope to bring it to the national team.”

NCAA Season 99 MVP Louie Ramirez of the University of Perpetual Help, Menard Guerrero, Choi Diao, Mark Calado, Adrian Villados, and Sherwin Umandal missed the final roster.

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