Amanda Musso has always looked up to her big sister.
But it was Amanda's encouragement that helped get Nicole Musso back on the volleyball court.
This season the sisters play for colleges 16 miles apart with Nicole at Cal State Stanislaus and Amanda at Modesto Junior College.
Nicole Musso returned to the court following a two-year break. A communications major who will graduate in the spring, Nicole has played through the pain of a right knee injury sustained against Chico State on Oct. 10.
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Nicole is third on the team in kills (164) and blocks (52) in 80 games, much to the delight of her younger sister, who wanted her to play so badly.
"Of course, I was encouraging that girl," Amanda said. "She's such a good player. It was a waste for her to be not playing."
The Turlock sisters are close -- the only children of Jerry Musso and Julie Sayad -- despite a four-year age difference that kept them from ever playing together.
Amanda gamely jumped onto Nicole's back to take a candid picture after her Modesto JC match Wednesday. The two often gestured to each other in their own familial language when the ball wasn't in play.
Both attended as many of the other's home matches as they could, sometimes with a bag of ice taped to a sore appendage.
Nicole did coach Amanda for two years in the Club United program of Hughson. It was as close as they got to being on the floor at the same time.
"I could yell at her without it affecting the sister relationship," Nicole said. "We knew where the sister/coach line was."
Amanda said she loved playing for her sister, whom she talks to every day, usually on the way to school, even if it's only for a few minutes.
"My sister is my role model," Amanda said. "She's always been the one I looked up to in volleyball. I love that she got a chance to work with me. Everyone always says, 'Oh, you're Nicole Musso's sister.' Yeah, I know. I don't even want to think about not having her here next year."
The Warriors finish their season with two home matches -- against Cal State San Bernardino today at 3 p.m. and Cal Poly Pomona on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Pirates end their Big 8 Conference schedule tonight at Sacramento City and hope to make the playoffs.
STANISLAUS HOOP POLLS -- Coaches in the California Collegiate Athletic Association don't expect much from the Stanislaus basketball teams. The men were picked eighth and the women 10th in the CCAA preseason coaches polls.
The Stanislaus men, 13-16 overall last season, tied for seventh at 9-13 in the CCAA. Humboldt, which went 26-4 last season, was picked to repeat as the conference champion.
The Stanislaus women were 6-20 overall and 3-19 (11th place) in the CCAA. Dominguez Hills is the favorite, receiving three first-place votes after making it to the playoffs in 2006-07.
MJC WRESTLING -- The Pirates are looking for that "second man" -- crowd support -- tonight when they take on Sierra in their Big 8 Conference finale at the MJC gym. The dual meet begins at 6 p.m.
Modesto is fifth in the state with five wrestlers ranked in the top eight. Sierra is second with eight wrestlers ranked in the top eight. Six matches are expected to feature ranked or previously ranked wrestlers.
WARRIOR CRAB DINNER -- A crab feed to raise money for Stanislaus athletic scholarships is tonight at 7 p.m. at the Assyrian American Civic Club of Turlock, 2618 N. Golden State Blvd. Social hour begins at 6 p.m. with a drawing and auctions. Tickets are $45 per person. For ticket information, call 667-3931 or visit www.csustan.edu.