Aug. 14, 2002
OXFORD, Miss. -
When New York and Arizona were battling for the World Series title last fall, it hit home for many Ole Miss fans since former Rebel David Dellucci was wearing the Diamondback uniform.
But, when the series got to the bottom of the ninth inning of game seven, it took on a little more significance for Erica Tricco, a senior on the Lady Rebel volleyball team. When Luis Gonzalez delivered his Series-winning RBI single, Tricco was cheering for not only her hometown team, but also a friend.
"I did some baby-sitting for Luis Gonzalez and his family," said Tricco, a native of Phoenix, Ariz. "We got hooked up through (former Chicago Cub great) Ryan Sandberg, who is another family friend, and Sandberg and Gonzalez are very good friends."
And, like the Diamondbacks, Tricco has her sights set on a title - the Southeastern Conference Western Division crown - in her final season of collegiate play.
"I would like to win the SEC West," said Tricco, who has seen action in 216 games in her Ole Miss career. "Everybody has goals of winning the overall SEC championship and going to the NCAA Tournament, but with the new start this program has with the coaching change, I want to start small and focus on winning the SEC West. Winning the (SEC) West would be a huge accomplishment for us, especially for the seniors."
Going after a conference divisional championship is no easy task, and Tricco realizes that it is going to take great leadership from the five seniors on the 2002 squad.
"The seniors are on a mission this year," said the 6-foot outside hitter. "With the new feeling surrounding the program with the new staff, we want to start a tradition of strong leadership. In the past, leadership has been somewhat of a weakness for the program, but this year's seniors are determined to be strong leaders for the underclassmen."
Ole Miss head coach Joe Getzin agrees with Tricco on the importance of senior leadership and expects her experience to be a plus for the 2002 Lady Rebel squad.
"Erica is a good athlete who may play on the outside or the right side," Getzin said. "She hasn't really settled into a position yet, and we're looking to see what she will do in our preseason drills. Erica has great volleyball experience, and she played with a good club team in Arizona.
"I'm a firm believer that you are only going to be as good as your seniors. These seniors have been the hardest workers on the team. They are ready to lead in a positive way."
That positive feeling began for the Lady Rebels in their spring drills, and Tricco is excited about what lies ahead for the fall season that begins Aug. 30 in the University of Montana Tournament in Missoula, Mont.
"We proved to be a more competitive team in the spring tournaments and I believe that will carry over to the fall," Tricco said. "The new enthusiasm the coaching staff has brought in has made a huge difference. I'm ready for the season to start."
While the start of the 2002 volleyball season is just over two weeks away, Tricco begins her final year of college in less than a week. For the transplanted Southwesterner from Arizona, Tricco said her time in Oxford will keep drawing her back to Ole Miss long after she graduates.
"Being from Arizona, coming to Ole Miss was my first experience with the Southeast," said Tricco, a Broadcast Communications major with an emphasis in Public Relations. "It's been a great experience for me to live in a different part of the United States. I've really enjoyed my time here. I want to be a proud alum of Ole Miss who keeps coming back."