These Volleyball Players Are The First Filipinos To Play In The Korean League

A historic serve. Pun intended.

Two Filipino volleyball players are rewriting history and paving the way for a new era of Philippine volleyball.

While the Southeast Asian Games captivate our attention with its thrill and excitement, there’s another news that will make many Filipino sports fan burst with pride. In a groundbreaking moment for Philippine volleyball, two exceptional athletes, Marck Espejo and Mar-Jana Phillips, have etched their names in history as the first Pinoy players to join the highly coveted Korean League, proving that the Philippines has a rightful place among the volleyball elite.

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The historic feat occurred last month during the 2023 Korea Volleyball Federation (KOVO) Asian Quota Draft, where Marck Espejo and MJ Phillips made history as the only Filipino players to secure coveted spots among the competitive seven slots. This milestone marks their entry into the esteemed Korean V-League, one of Asia’s premier volleyball club competitions, as the first Pinoys to grace its courts.

Marck Espejo’s exceptional talent is undeniable, with his five-time UAAP MVP title and illustrious tenure as a former Ateneo Blue Eagle. Notably, he played a pivotal role in the Philippine national team’s historic silver medal finish at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. As an ace outside hitter, Marck also showcased his prowess by leading his local club, Cignal, to a flawless victory in the 2023 Spikers’ Turf Open Conference.

Considering Marck’s impressive credentials, it comes as no surprise that he earned a coveted spot in the tryouts held in Jeju Island and was subsequently chosen as the third overall pick in the KOVO draft. The reigning champions, Incheon Korean Air Jumbos, recognized his talent and potential. Notably, Marck stands as the sole Southeast Asian player to be drafted, further enhancing his already impressive international venture, which includes campaigns in Japan, Thailand, and Bahrain.

A week prior to Marck’s drafting, Mar-Jana Phillips, a rising star in Philippine women’s volleyball, also secured her place in the Korean League. Her exceptional performance in the 2023 PVL All-Filipino Conference, where she propelled the Petro Gazz Angels to the finals and a runner-up finish, caught the attention of scouts. As a result, Phillips was chosen as the fifth overall pick by the Gwangju AI Peppers.

Expressing her gratitude, the Filipino-American player stated, “It has always been my dream to play in the Korean league, and now I have a chance to show what Filipinos can do.” Recognized as the best middle blocker and a member of the dream team in the last PVL conference, Phillips vowed to give it her all and make her fellow Filipinos proud. “I promise to give it everything I got and make the Filipinos proud. Maraming Salamat po sa inyong lahat who have supported me through my journey.”

Indeed, the future looks bright for Filipino volleyball, and Marck Espejo and MJ Phillips are leading the way, carving a path for future generations of Pinoy athletes to follow their dreams and make their mark on the world stage. And undoubtedly, Filipino volleyball fans are eager to anticipate their performances in the Korean League, which is scheduled for October and promises to be an exhilarating showcase of their skills and determination. As they step onto court, we’ll surely be there, cheering them on with overflowing pride and admiration as they represent our nation with utmost honor and grace.

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