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Digging into West Orange Girls Volleyball

Royson Folas, Athletics and Editorials Editor

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WEST ORANGE, NJ — This fall, West Orange High School (WOHS) has had an abundance of sports teams with stand out seasons. One team that attracted a great amount of attention this year is the West Orange Girls Volleyball team.

The Girls Volleyball team has had a good season thus far, with a current record of 10-10,  accomplishing many feats that have not been achieved in previous years. The girls are led by head coach Jacqueline Cruz, who is also the JV Girls Basketball coach and soon to be head coach of the new WOHS Boys Volleyball team. She lives by the motto “go hard and never give up.”

Entering her 3rd year as the head coach of the team, Cruz believes this current group of girls has been the best squad she has coached since she started. This is due to the fact that she had an abundance of skillful players whom she rotated often during the season. A few of these players include Saniyah Richardson, Rachel Ezomo, Kaija Jones, Lindsay Levine, Ogechi Nwobu, Indigo Jackson, Gabby Eribe, and Onye Bosco. These players greatly impact the positive results this team has.

One of the greatest strengths Cruz believes the team has is their defense, stating that “We are able to work together and are able to back each other up well because our team chemistry is excellent and our serving has gotten much better. Overall we are a well balanced team.”

During the off-season, Coach Cruz keeps the girls busy to make sure they are still in tip-top shape physically and technically. They do plenty of strength and conditioning training and go to Penn state Volleyball camp over the summer. Cruz likes to be very strict with her players. “I like to give the girls responsibilities. I like the girls to be accountable, and give them tasks where they are in charge of their own decisions. After they graduate they need to be responsible for their own actions and I help them build on human characteristics.”

In addition to having good chemistry and excellent teamwork every team needs an encouraging, well organized, and vocal team leader. On this team there are two: Saniyiah Richardson and Raichel Ezomo. Richardson in particular has been exceptional from day one,  playing libero for the team ever since she was a freshman. Her accomplishments have only piled up since then, and on October 10th she became the first player in West Orange history to reach 1,000 digs. According to Saniyah, part of her success comes through her relationship with Coach Cruz. “She’s really hard on me because she knows I want to play volleyball in college. She’s a good person to talk to.” Saniyah’s phenomenal performances earned her an award for being SEC player of the week for the week September 13-18.

The WOHS volleyball team has accomplished many significant feats this season. One of them being defeating Livingston for the first time in school history by a score of 2-1. Over the weekend, WOHS held their first volleyball tournament and the Junior Varsity went home as the victors by edging out North Bergen to take first place. This season looks to be a memorable one for WOHS, and Coach Cruz already has big hopes for the new boys volleyball team who will pay their first season in spring.

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