By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
HAVING SEEN how men’s volleyball steadily picked up momentum in interest in the last few years, national players Marck Espejo and John Vic de Guzman said it is just unfortunate that such push of the sports was halted by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
But the two volleyball stars remain optimistic that men’s volleyball would soar anew, supported by the platforms already in place with leagues like the Spikers’ Turf.
Sidelined like most athletes because of the restrictions put up to fight against COVID-19, particularly that prohibiting the conduct of team sports, Messrs. Espejo and De Guzman said the current situation for them has been tough but they are trying to cope up the best way they can.
One of the things they miss is logging time on the volleyball court to train.
While they keep themselves busy by maintaining their shape by working out at home, time spent on the court is still different, they said.
“Of course there are still home workouts that we can do so as to condition our body but training inside the volleyball court is different, especially familiarizing the muscles during volleyball practices,” Mr. De Guzman shared during their recent guesting on Tiebreaker Vods’ 2OT podcast.
It is the same sentiment for Mr. Espejo, who also added missing bonding with his teammates during the forced break.
“I really miss being with my teammates and coaches, not only on the volleyball court but also outside of it. We are doing home workouts as our coaches have given us conditioning programs to follow but being on the court really has a different feel to it,” the decorated University Athletic Association of the Philippines player from Ateneo said.
The two players shared the court as members of the Philippine team that won silver in last year’s Southeast Asian Games, a showing they said they are very proud of, especially as it added further motor for Philippine men’s volleyball thrust to be appreciated more.
However, they were quick to rue how COVID-19 sidetracked that momentum.
“The atmosphere there (SEA Games) was great. It was like basketball which was the first time it happened in men’s volleyball. It was really a proud moment for the sport and the country,” said Mr. Espejo, whose team met Thailand in the finals of men’s volleyball in the SEA Games.
“It is just frustrating that after the SEA Games, COVID-19 came and we went into lockdown. Hopefully when we get back the support from fans will still be there,” he added.
In relation to sustaining support for men’s volleyball, the players shared that leagues like the Spikers’ Turf play a big role in it and that they expressed hope that such platforms be maintained and added on.
“Men’s volleyball was really given a chance in Spikers’ Turf and we’re very thankful for that. Through the league male players have something to look forward to after playing collegiate volleyball and with the help of Spikers’ Turf we can see the level of play has really improved,” said Mr. De Guzman, a star player during his National Collegiate Athletic Association days with the College of Saint Benilde.
“Also through Spikers’ Turf, opportunities for Filipino players to play abroad opened up which also shows that there is a future for one in men’s volleyball not only in basketball, which is the number one sport in the country,” Mr. Espejo, who had stints in leagues in Japan and Thailand, for his part, said.
As of this writing, it still remains to be seen when volleyball activities will be allowed to resume with COVID-19 still a going concern here, but nonetheless Messrs. Espejo and De Guzman said they are ready to plunge into action when given the go-ahead.