ENNIS – It’s been a magical five days for the Waxahachie Lady Indians as the team competed against some of the best teams in Texas Friday and Saturday to place fifth in the Bryon Nelson Volleyball Classic before being named the fourth best 4A team in the state Monday.

While preparing to take the court against Ennis in the District 15-4A opener Tuesday the Lady Indians’ week improved ten-fold as teammate Tori Bingham walked into a volleyball gym for the first time since being involved in a vehicle accident on July 28.

“It was very, very emotional seeing her back with the team after the battle she has had. The things she has overcome to get to this point are amazing,” Waxahachie head coach Sandy Faussett-Stoops said. “I can’t tell you how excited we are to have her back with us, wearing her jersey and being a part of what we are. Even when she was not here she was a part of what we are doing, but to have her with us is awesome.”

When the accident first occurred doctors were not sure if she would make it back to school this year, much less take in a volleyball game.

They underestimated the heart of Bingham and her desire to be with her team at the start of district play.

“She walked in and the kids saw her for the first time outside of the hospital. To see her in a more familiar setting than they were used to was great,” Faussett said. “The players were smiling ear to ear for 30 minutes prior to the time we played. We all are Tori fans and are thrilled she has overcame what she has.”

After the initial shock of seeing their teammate outside the hospital the Lady Indians brought her to the court where Bingham wore her No. 6 jersey and watched as her teammates warmed up.

“It feels really good to be back. It feels weird watching them but its nice to be back,” she said.

Since the opening season with Midlothian, the Lady Indians have worn “Team Tori” T-shirts during warm ups. They continued the tradition Tuesday.

“It means a lot to me, it really means a lot,” Bingham said about her team’s support while fighting back tears. “I will be at all the games from here on out.”

With still a couple weeks left around the hospital, Bingham said she is ready to get on with her senior year and be with her team.

For the first time all season the Lady Indians were fully introduced as a team as Bingham was announced along with the other 13 players on the roster.

“Words can not even describe what it meant for her to be introduced with us. I got chills and I could not stop crying,” senior libero Lacie Tucker said.

When each player was introduced they handed Bingham their souvenir game ball as a token of their appreciation for her surprise visit.

“Doctors told us it would be months before she could do anything but it was just a few weeks and she is out of the hospital. She is truly a miracle,” Tucker added.

After the introductions the Lady Indians took care of business against Ennis winning in three sets, 25-12, 25-14, 25-22.

Only 27 days after the accident, Bingham’s support at the game meant more to the players than the fact that they had just swept their county rival to open district.

“It was amazing having her here. I have never had so many happy tears. I was laughing and crying at the same time,” Tucker said. “We can play better and we will play better for her but I am just so happy she was here.”

Ennis took a 7-3 lead to open the match against No. 4 Waxahachie but four straight Lady Lion hitting errors tied the match at seven and led to a big Waxahachie run.

Without the services of two-time district MVP Kate Praslicka who was out with a minor injury, the Lady Indians went on a 16-2 run to take a 19-9 lead in the set.

Ashlyn Risk served eight straight points during the run as Waxahachie continued to take advantage of Ennis errors.

By the time the opening match was finished Ennis had committed 10 hitting errors.

Waxahachie took a 4-0 lead in the second set with Cara Partington at the line before forcing an Ennis timeout with an 8-1 lead.

Kristen Foster served six consecutive points to help Waxahachie build a 15-5 advantage in a set the Lady Indians never trailed and benefited from 10 more Ennis hitting mistakes.

In the final set, Waxahachie built a 7-0 lead before Ennis rallied back to tie the match at eight. The teams traded the lead four times before Waxahachie took a 22-21 lead on another Ennis hitting error.

Four straight errors by Ennis towards the end of the third set led to a 24-21 Waxahachie lead before the game fittingly ended with an Ennis serve that hit the net.

Morgan Osborn served eight points in the final set for Waxahachie while Lisa Trevino and Carly Hess had very strong performances.

In subvarsity action, the Waxahachie freshmen won 25-6, 25-17 while the Waxahachie JV won 25-17, 25-11.

Both subvarsity teams have the weekend off while the varsity Lady Indians will play in the Arlington Invitational beginning Friday. For a preview of the tournament, including bracket and pools,  see Thursday’s Daily Light.