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West Orange girls volleyball is off to fast start thanks in part ot the continued outstanding play of Saniyiah Richardson (above), who had terrific recent week when she had 97 digs in one five match stretch. (Photo by Stephan Zichella)

West Orange Looks To Challenge
In SEC And ECT Title Chases

By Steve Tober

WEST ORANGE- Verona is the two-time defending Essex County Girls Volleyball Tournament champion and a 2017 Group 1 state champion that returns a host of key performers

Mount St. Dominic has one of the Super Essex Conference’s best players in Jessica Sanderson plus a host of superb role players and looks to return opposite the Hillbillies in this season’s ECT final.

Caldwell, which took home an impressive early-season title by winning the Gold bracket in the Madison Tournament, is always a solid program to keep an eye on.

And West Orange, a new member of the SEC’s top division, the American, is definitely considering itself very much in the mix as far as challenging both for an SEC-American Division regular season crown and an ECT title.

The Lady Mountaineers of head coach Jack Cruz recently knocked off Caldwell, 2-0, during a successful week in which it also defeated Montclair and Passaic Tech to assume top status in the SEC-American along with Verona as each entered this week with just one division loss as they also prepared to meet on Monday in Hillbilly country.

West Orange has been receiving solid play from a number of girls, including recent SEC Player of the Week Saniyiah Richardson, Ogechi Nwobu, Lindsay Levine, Kajia Jones.

Richardson was part of six aces and recorded a very impressive number of 97 digs during a recent 5-match stretch and entered this week with 155 digs on the season. Nwobu is a force around the net with her blocks and kills, while Levine and Jones are very efficient in the assists department.

“Our girls came up with a goal of finishing a 4-0 week and we did that,” said Cruz about her team’s recent string of victories. “They have been working very hard.

“We had four games and just one day of practice in between and they really made the adjustments that were needed to continue to have success.”

West Orange is at the Mount on Wednesday at 6 p.m. as Nwobu and company will try and deal with the Lady Lions’ ultra-talented Sanderson at the net.
Verona, which is still the favorite to win the SEC-American and ECT titles this season, continues to be led by the dynamic duo of Hunter Coppola and Brooke Cooney. The ‘Billies have already defeated the Mount twice in early-season action by 2-0 scores.

Livingston, Bloomfield and Montclair are the other three teams in the SEC-American Division this fall. Although all three are under .500 so far, each can prove a handful on any given day. Bloomfield owns an early season win vs. West Orange.

The ECT will seed its field on Tuesday, Oct. 9, at the Livingston Fitness Center. The semifinals are slated for 5 and 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 25, at Bloomfield, and the 2018 county championship game is set for 1 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 27, at West Essex in North Caldwell.     

Follow Steve Tober on Twitter @Chattermeister

Kaija Jones (foreground) is one of the top assist leaders in the SEC as she continues to help lead West Orange. (photos courtesy of WOHS)

Ogechi Nwobu is very adept at kills and blocks as a force near the net for West Orange which is excelling in its SEC-American Division matches.

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