Following back-to-back trips to the Class 4A Region II tournament the expectations surrounding the Waxahachie Lady Indian volleyball program have never been higher under the direction of head coach Sandy Faussett-Stoops.

“We have to have pretty high expectations and I don’t think anyone, coaches or players, will be satisfied with the same spot as last year. We want to go past what we have done in the past, definitely,” Faussett said. “It really all comes down to what they decide to do in practices, they can’t just assume they are there. There has to be improvements made throughout the season if we expect to do things we have not done before.”

With 11 players returning from last year’s 32-13 team that was eliminated in three sets by J.J. Pearce in the Region II semifinal the Lady Indians showed Faussett they mean business.

“I don’t ever think in terms of state as far as expectations for our teams but the expectations for this team are as high as ever. Especially after they came back in such great shape. The first day of practice we picked up right where we left off in the spring. That is a real credit to them that they have taken care of business over the summer and are ready to go,” she said.

Last season the Lady Indians began the season with district MVP Kate Praslicka on the sideline against Midlothian with an injury before she slowly worked her way back into shape.

This year Praslicka is ready to go while sophomore Courtney Miller is mending from offseason surgery.

“We are pretty healthy,” Faussett said. “We anticipated not being able to use Courtney for the first couple weeks of the season. She tore her meniscus, had surgery this summer but her rehab has gone great and she looks really good. She is not 100 percent, but she is headed that direction.”

Waxahachie opens the season Monday against rival Midlothian before playing in Lake Dallas Tuesday and making its annual trip to the Denton Ryan Kick-off Classic Thursday and Saturday.

The Classic is loaded with talented teams once again including District 15-4A foe Red Oak.

District play begins Aug. 23 at Ennis and concludes Oct. 25 at Red Oak.

Waxahachie’s advanced to the state championship game three times in school history, twice as a Class 4A school, but each time finished runner-up.

Expectations are high this season and one reason for that is the amount of returning talent.

“We have such high expectations as far as what each player will contribute. Carley Hess looks really strong and is hitting the ball hard. She is playing middle for us, which is a real difficult position, and she looks good. She has been very impressive as have all the returners. The senior class has come back stronger and we are looking forward to seeing what they can do,” Faussett said.

Hess was added to the varsity roster for the playoffs last season as a sophomore and teams with seven seniors in hopes of bringing home the school’s first state championship.

Leading the pack for Waxahachie is Praslicka, a two-time district MVP and 2010 TGCA all-state player, Cara Partington, Sophie Stevens and Lacie Tucker, the 2010 libero of the year in District 15-4A.

Senior Tori Bingham was expected to be in the mix for a starting defensive position but might miss the season after being injured in a vehicle accident days before the first practice.

Other returning members of the team are senior Dae Dae Davis, Miller, junior Kristen Foster, Hess and senior Kelsey Vincent.

Making their varsity debut this season are sophomores Shelbie Tucker and Lisa Trevino and seniors Morgan Osborn and Ashlyn Risk.

Faussett said the team plans to run a 6-2 with Praslicka and Partington being used as the primary setters but with the athleticism on the team she could change it at any time depending on the opponent.

Praslicka led the team in several statistical categories last season including kills while Tucker was the leader in digs.

Expectations are high and it all begins tomorrow at 6 p.m. against rival Midlothian in the George Solis Gym on the campus of the Waxahachie Ninth Grade Academy.

District 15-4A

Predicted Final standings

Waxahachie    15-1

Red Oak        14-2

Mesquite Poteet    12-4

Forney        11-5

Ennis        8-8

Corsicana    5-11

Terrell        4-12

West Mesquite    1-15

Lancaster    1-15

Predictions by WNI sports staff