August 27, 2013
A jersey lay draped over a chair in the Nelson County High School gym Tuesday night. It was the season opener for the girls volleyball team. Player number nine was missing, but not forgotten.
It has been more than three weeks since anyone has reported seeing 17-year-old Alexis Murphy, but at the match against Amherst, Alexis' presence could be felt and seen from both sides of the court.
The season was supposed to be a family affair for the student. Her cousin recently joined the team as assistant coach.
"It would have been my first year coaching her, and we had just finished camp the week before when she went missing," said Jasmine Murphy.
Since then, her teammates have put her jersey on display for their scrimmages.
"We know she's coming home, and so I think for the girls having a sense of seeing her jersey there gives them something to play for," said Jasmine Murphy.
But it wasn't just Alexis' jersey making a statement. Her favorite color, pink, was sprinkled throughout the gym.
The girls tied pink ribbons in their hair, which have become a symbol in the search for the missing teen.
At Tuesday's first official game, even the competition was showing support for Alexis. The Amherst players added bright pink headbands to their uniforms.
Nelson County High School principal Todd Weidow says other schools have shown an outpouring of love during the difficult first month of classes.
"The kids have been through a lot. Our student body has been through a lot of pain and grief and not knowing," said Weidow. "It's just amazing the amount of support and how people have pulled together in hopes of Alexis' safe return."
The FBI had no new information to release Tuesday, but Alexis' family is confident they will bring her back.
"I'm still hopeful," said Jasmine Murphy. "I know they have stuff out there and are continuing to investigate and our family is just staying strong. So, we're keeping our faith up."
Keeping their faith up, and Alexis' jersey out, so when she does return, she can get right back into the game.
Nelson County resident Randy Allen Taylor remains behind bars after being charged with abduction in the case. His next court appearance is September 24.