[Editors' note: Second of a series]
The four-time UAAP MVP led the Blue Eagles to a great five-set escape in Game One of their semis clash with twice-to-beat Far Eastern University, 18-25, 25-13, 24-26, 25-23, 15-9, in the UAAP Season 80 men's volleyball tournament on April 21, 2018 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Espejo's record-setting 55 points were built on 47 attacks, six blocks, and two aces — out-attacking the entire FEU squad (46) with their season on the line.
His explosive scoring output fell one point shy of Cuban import Gyselle Silva's 56-piece outing in the SMART Giga Hitters' five-set loss to Cocolife Asset Managers in the now-defunct Philippine Superliga — exactly two weeks before the Ateneo-FEU match.
Espejo's one last flight
In his swan song for the Blue Eagles, the former national team high-flyer savored his one last shot to bring championship gold home to Ateneo.
“'Yung points naman po, hindi ko siya iniisip. Basta ang iniisip ko lang na basta binigay sa akin ang bola, kailangan kong pumuntos,” said Espejo.
“Inisip ko po kasi hindi ‘yun ‘yung last game na may training pa kami bukas."
And rightly so, Espejo and Co. overcame the odds of a twice-to-win disadvantage and completed the series comeback to reach the Season 80 Finals.
But his last big fight, however, did not have the dream ending hewanted as fellow PH spiker Bryan Bagunas and the NU Bulldogs seized the trophy from the Blue Eagles in an emphatic two-game Finals sweep.
Despite the heartbreaking loss, Espejo left the Eagles' den with his head held high as he gave the Ateneo community five special years of pride and glory they'll never forget.
"Gusto ko lang po maging memorable ‘yung last year ko, at saka ino-offer ko sa mga teammates ko ‘yun na 'pag umalis kami, itutuloy nila ang tradition namin,” Espejo shared.