February 28, 2020 – By NJP

The West Orange Mountaineers broke the mold last year winning 11 of their first twelve games and finishing the season with a 17-7 record. They were undefeated in the West Essex Colonial Division and earned their programs first bid to the state tournament. The unusual story behind this success is it was the teams first year as a varsity program.

Jackson Edwards was by far the teams most valuable player. As a junior he put up 124 kills, 70 more than any other team member. His serve is arguably one of the best in the state racking up 70 aces in 24 matches. And his leadership was a real presence on the court with many fellow classmates never having played organized volleyball before. When you watched their games last season, Jackson presented himself like a seasoned club player playing at the highest level for his age. Despite a smaller frame, he was polished, athletic, and possessed really strong technique and form as an example for his teammates to learn from.

Edwards feel strongly that the team will have even greater success this year. They return a ton of varsity players from last season retaining 81% of their stats. West Orange has earned a top 50 pre-season ranking but watch out come the end of May as these players continue to learn and develop their cohesiveness.

Can it be another undefeated league season for the Mountaineers? Time will tell. But rest assured Jackson will be leading the charge.

Here is our interview with Jackson…

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Hey Jackson…Tell us a bit about yourself? (What school do you attend, what town do you live? What year are you graduating?, family?, etc…)

My name is Jackson Edwards, I live in West Orange and attend West Orange High School.  I’m graduating in 2020.

How long have you played volleyball and what inspired you to take up volleyball initially?

I’ve been playing volleyball since 8th grade, and my Dad encouraged me to play.  He played club volleyball in college.

What are your metrics/details? Height, vertical, position, club team, etc… What’s your favorite position to play?

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I’m a 5’9“ outside hitter.  I don’t know my vertical, and this year I’ve decided to work a job instead of playing club, but I’ve played for Warren Sixpack and CJVA in the past.

Which player last season was the toughest competitor that you faced and why?

I don’t remember any players from last season in particular, but we played Fairlawn in states and that was definitely the best team we played.

How will your high school team do in the upcoming season? Do you have a lot of returning players? What will be the key to success?

I have high expectations for this season.  Last year was our first year as a program, and none of our other players had ever played organized volleyball, but I think we surprised everyone and went undefeated in our division.  This year everyone is gonna have experience and I think we have some of the most talented athletes in the state, so I expect that we’ll do well.

Who is your support group?

My Mom and Dad come to as many games as they can and they’ve been taking me to club volleyball tournaments since I was in middle school, so I really appreciate them for that.

NJP considers you as one of the top players in the state. Do you plan on playing in College? (If so, which ones are you looking at?)

I don’t plan on playing at the varsity level in college, but I would like to be on a club team at whatever college I end up attending.

Which schools are your biggest rivals?

We played Montclair Immaculate 3 times last year and all of the games were close, so I’d consider them a rival.  But we’re looking to beat any team that we play.

Tell us about your High School Coaches.

We are very lucky to have such experienced coaches, and they did a great job developing players who had never played organized volleyball before.  I’d attribute much of our team success to the leadership of Coach Cruz and Coach John Chang.

Who is your favorite college or pro volleyball player and why?

My favorite pro volleyball player is Taylor Sander because he is a bit undersized for a hitter at the olympic level, but he jumps super high.

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