August 6, 2020 – By NJP

Photo courtesy of Raymond Mikolay

Mother Seton Regional High School has one of the best Mascots. They are referred to as the Home of The Setters and it certainly holds true for rising sophomore Liahnna Orange. She broke on to the scene in her first year and made an amazing contribution as a freshman putting up a solid 361 assists which was good enough for 4th in the state in her class and a whopping 71 aces which was tops among any freshman in NJ.

Liahnna’s 8.2 assists per set was #1 among freshman and good enough for 18th in the state of NJ overall. Her 1.61 aces per set was also tops in her freshman class and was 4th best in the state overall. NJP put together statistics that rate overall contribution made by each player that factors in stats from all categories and weighs those stats by strength of the opponents played during the season. Liahnna was ranked #27 out of over 3,500 girls players on over 300 teams in our player rater.

Passing is also a solid skill set for Liahnna. She averaged almost 2.5 digs per set as a freshman and plays libero for her VB Rags club team. She is very comfortable around the ball whether she is setting or digging and has great hands for passing and setting. It has helped that she started volleyball at 4 years old and has played club volleyball since 9. Her instincts and positioning are top notch for such a young player. She will be a player to watch as she progresses through the next three years of high school and continues to develop her skills at the club level.

Mother Seton was off the chart last season finishing 19-3 before being taken down by Holy Angels in the state tournament. They will certainly lose some solid seniors to graduation including Samantha Moses (267 digs) and Rachelle Montilus (143 kills) but they return the two freshman that will power the program for the next three season… Liahnna and Fiona North who had 109 kills, 117 digs, and 37 aces in her initial year for the Setters.

Liahnna certainly puts her academics first. But we can tell her passion for volleyball is overflowing. And when that passion kicks in, there is no telling just how high the goals will be that she can accomplish over the next few seasons and after high school as well.

Here is our interview with Ms. Orange…

Tell us a bit about yourself Liahnna?

Hello my name is Liahnna Orange. I am an upcoming sophomore in the graduating class of 2023 at Mother Seton Regional High School in Clark, NJ. I reside with my mother, father, and older sister in Linden, NJ.

Photo courtesy of Patrick Fouche

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

I have played indoor volleyball for about 11 years. I was first introduced to volleyball at the age of four . At the time my older sister, Mikaela, played volleyball with her elementary school team. Being around her and her team was the foundation to learning the game of volleyball. Mikaela’s coaches included me in warm-ups and took time out of their practice to work with me. I began improving and reaching milestones each year with the skills they showed me. As I got older I started playing competitively in elementary and middle school volleyball leagues. I started playing club volleyball at the age nine. My early exposure to the game of volleyball broadened the game of volleyball for me more than I could have imagined. I’ve tried many sports including soccer, bowling, track, and basketball but the connection I had with volleyball could not be matched.

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

I’m a 5’3 setter in my high school’s 5-1 dominant rotation. I play both libero and setter for VB Rags volleyball club. The positions I play are both enjoyable. It would be difficult to choose a favorite position at this time. I am happy with my success at playing both positions. There is so much more I have to learn and I welcome the challenge.

Photo courtesy of Stephen Edwards

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

I believe the Mother Seton high school team will achieve great things this year. The team is focused and eager to make the most of the upcoming season. MSR has something we call “Seton spirit” I believe it’s the driving force behind our team’s efforts on the court. We lost six seniors but have nine driven returning players that are looking forward to the upcoming season. We had an outstanding season with a 19-3 overall record. In my opinion I believe the key to success is making positive changes when we fail, focusing on the fundamentals, and enjoying the time we have while playing the sport we love.

Photo courtesy of Raymond Mikolay

Tell us about your Mother Seton teammates. Who do you expect will be this year’s standout and up and coming players?

My Mother Seton teammates are a talented group of players. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and work to maintain balance for the good of the team. Although we had six graduating volleyball seniors we still have a strong team. The 2020 season in my opinion has a standout team player. Sophomore Fiona North has demonstrated her passing, serving, and hitting this year. She without a question is a person to watch this upcoming season among others. We have good chemistry on the court which is beneficial to the team. Senior Isabella Maertz has contributed her skill set of hitting, passing, and serving to the team as well. Isabella gives her all when on the court and has the motivation to do better. She was very welcoming when I came in as a freshman and it will be hard to see her leave this year. I believe her senior season will be one to watch as she concludes her time playing with Mother Seton. With the six talented seniors that graduated I assume many of the JV players will be moving up with the same drive and passion as the current varsity players. I can’t wait to see the new power our team will hold for this season with new positions being filled.

Photo courtesy of Stephen Edwards

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

It is a gratifying acknowledgement that NJP considers me as one of the top players in the state as a freshman. I plan on playing volleyball in college. This has always been a goal of mine since I started playing volleyball. I am thankful for my family and my volleyball experiences for giving me opportunities to visit many colleges. I have my focus on several D1 conferences. I firmly believe a strong foundation in education is key to attaining access to D1 colleges. My primary concern is my education and how well I would fit with the team.

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

I faced my last season’s toughest competitor while playing against Colonia during the quarter final round at the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament. Going into the game I knew they had a very competitive team with outstanding players. Colonia had a strong defense against our offensive players. The toughest competitor for my last year’s season was Sophia Wintonick. Sophia excelled in digging our hits and receiving our serve. You can notice her control and comfort when she is playing libero for the team. Sophia received the majority of the digs for that game giving the setter a good pass to set to their offense.The other DS’s passing was very good as well, sharing the amount of digs fairly even amongst themselves. 

Photo courtesy of Raymond Mikolay

You broke onto the high school scene last season with an impressive 71 aces to go along with your 369 assists as setter.  What are your personal goals for 2020?

My personal goal for 2020 is to exceed last year’s statistics. Hopefully Covid-19 does not shorten my upcoming season. If Covid-19 affects the duration of this season my goal will be to at least match last year’s statistics.

Who is your support group?

My support group is mostly family and friends. My family support group consists of my immediate family and my extended family. My mother and father have always been supportive since I developed a love for volleyball. They dedicate their time to driving me to practices and tournaments no matter how early or late they may start. Playing different variations of volleyball throughout the year can become overwhelming at times but they put my well-being first and let me pause for a moment to take care of myself. My sister supports me in a loving and caring way. Since I picked up the sport by watching her play she is like my built-in pepper partner. Playing with or against my sister is always a fun time and I look forward to many more of them. It is great when my sister is around so I can have someone to talk to from a player’s perspective.  My Nana shows her devotion to my active schedule as well. She is there to take me to practices or cheer me on at games in a moment’s notice. She loves spending her free time watching me play and seeing my growth. My extended family shows love and support through phone calls or coming to see me play.

Being fortunate enough to have a tournament schedule that allows me to play in different states, my family will drive up to see me play when I am nearby. This support is very special to me because not everyone is as fortunate as I am to have a loving and caring family around. My friends and teammates support me playing volleyball as well. When leaving school to travel for a tournament they give well wishes and big hugs before I leave. My friends respect my sport and my dedication I have for it. I introduced some of my friends to the love of volleyball and now I get to share not only my friendship but a volleyball connection with them. My teammates are my second family. Practices and tournaments are memorable with the special connection we have. Seeing past teammates I show support by watching them play and catch up with them afterward. Having this big support group is something I hold dear to my heart and I have nothing but love for all that are included. 

Younger Liahnna (right, at age 4) at her first volleyball
practice with her older sister Mikaela at SMEA in Linden

Have you won any awards such as All County or All State or others?

I was fortunate enough to win awards my freshman year as a varsity starter for Mother Seton’s volleyball team. As a freshman I was selected in “Top Freshman” and “Top Underclassmen” by NJ.com. At the end of my volleyball season I was recognized for my accomplishments and selected in the GMC Division All Star Team (first team). In addition, Mother Seton selected me as Rookie of the Year for my team.

Photo courtesy of Raymond Mikolay

Which schools are your biggest rivals?

Our school’s biggest rivals are St.Thomas Aquinas. They have been our long standing rivals for years. In the past, both teams experienced wins and losses. Fortunately, this year we emerged with a win. 

What do you do during the off-season to stay in shape and prepare for next year? (Club team? Workouts? Watch VB vids? Go to College games?) Do you play other sports? (if so, which ones?)

An off-season for volleyball is a state of mind. My experience has always been to be prepared. Fall is the start of high school dynamics and reorganization of our team. Organized clinics and agility training runs throughout this time. At the end of the high school season, the tryout process begins for club volleyball. Routine club practices, tournaments, and scrimmages are ongoing through winter and spring season. I enjoy building my cardio and strength with my volleyball community via zoom and several social distanced practices. My workout includes walking and running and beach volleyball training. My athletic year winds down with my Mother Seton Summer league volleyball. I would not exchange these experiences.

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

I have two pro volleyball players that are my favorite. When I was younger I became very interested in the history of volleyball. A player that stood out to me at the time was Flo Hyman. Flo Hyman was an exceptional 6’5 outside hitter for the USA professional volleyball team. I admire her leadership for being one of the founders of the USA team. Her dedication to volleyball by practicing 6-8 hours a day 6 days a week was astonishing. Unfortunately she passed away suffering from Marfan syndrome. It’s unfortunate I never got to meet her and see her talent but her legacy is big enough for me to remember.

My second favorite player is Haleigh Washington. Haleigh Washington is a 6’3 middle for the USA volleyball team. She was talented at such a young age with a passion to succeed. I was fortunate enough to meet her and share a special moment with her at Happy Volley while she was playing for Penn State. Although I was only 10 when I met her I followed her through her volleyball journey up to the present day. Haliegh is such a fun and approachable person and I am very lucky to have met and speak with her. Although we play different positions their philosophy about the sport inspires me.

Photo courtesy of Raymond Mikolay

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