Tom Smart, Deseret News
One day Bailey Farris was the key player on the state's top-ranked volleyball team.
The next day she was in a hospital bed fighting a bizarre infection that threatened not just her senior season but her life.
"It was terrible for her," said her father, Jann Farris. "I was worried about her recovering, and I didn't think she'd recover in time to help them this season. I could see how weak she was, I could see she was losing weight."
The Morgan senior woke up with a small red spot on her knee and, by the early evening, she couldn't walk on it.
"We went to the hospital and within 15 minutes, I had an IV in and they were taking blood work," said the middle hitter who recovered from the fast-moving infection that put her in the hospital for six days in the middle of the season. "It was really hard, especially being away from volleyball for two weeks. It was hard being a senior because I wanted to be there to help my team."
Adds head coach Liz Wiscombe, "We weren't sure she was even going to come back."
As Bailey agonized over the possibility of not recovering in time to help her team battle for a 3A state title they'd talked about all summer, the community came together on her behalf.
Her teammates decided they were going to fast for her recovery, and when other students heard about it, they joined in until almost the entire school was participating.
"It was amazing," said her father. "There really was an outpouring from the whole town."
And her coach said it wasn't just the city of Morgan.
"The volleyball community is small and it's like a family," said Morgan head coach Liz Wiscombe. "She got emails and cards from all over the state."
Wiscombe said it isn't just that Morgan and the volleyball community are supportive groups, but that a lot of the flowers, balloons, cards and love were offered because of who Bailey Farris is. Her athletic ability, leadership and work ethic earned her a 3A state title and this year's Deseret News Ms. Volleyball Award.
"She's a great player, but they love her as a person," Wiscombe said. "They respect her as a person. It's because of people like Bailey that you stay in coaching."
Farris did recover, and in the two weeks she was gone, her teammates proved they were as committed as she was to earning the school's second straight state title.
"My team totally stepped up," said Farris, who will play volleyball at Utah Valley University next season. "They came together and they did what we needed to do. When I came back, that (unity) was our advantage."
Farris was the key to the Trojans' 3A state title run, but her greatest strength was her ability to bring her teammates together.
"She is just a mentally tough kid," said Wiscombe. "She's quiet but she's a really strong leader. She's so dang positive. She's taken a couple of kids on our team when she realized they needed help with school work and helped them out on her own. She just built their self-esteem."
Her teammates were so attached to her that often after games, they'd ask to stop by the hospital to see Farris.
"In the end, it made us stronger because everybody else had to step up," said Wiscombe. "But it also made us realize how much we missed her. The team was really close, and that was our greatest strength."
Farris was almost unstoppable, as she slammed kills from just about everywhere on the court. She finished with 405 kills, 74 solo blocks, 111 digs and 32 aces.
"She has a quick arm swing, and she can put the ball away," said Wiscombe. "She can hit any type of set with confidence."
While she is extremely compassionate and friendly, she is also a gritty competitor.
"The neat thing about Bailey is in a close game, she'd have that look in her eye that said, 'Get me the ball!' " said Wiscombe, laughing. "She'd take it up a notch. She doesn't just like the pressure, she plays well. But then she's real quiet and real humble."
Farris exhibited leadership off the court as well. Instead of playing in a senior all-star game two weeks ago, she led a retreat for young women in her LDS stake. Leaders relied on the group's older girls to teach and mentor the younger teens.
"It was really rewarding, and her (teachers) said if she'd have left, it wouldn't have been as successful," her father said. "She's a really good leader; she's morally grounded. We're really, really proud of her."
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