In an astonishing feat that defies the norms of women’s sports attendance, the Nebraska volleyball team – Cornhuskers etched their name in history books. On Wednesday night, an incredible 92,003 spectators gathered at Lincoln’s Memorial Stadium to witness a thrilling volleyball match between the University of Nebraska and the University of Nebraska-Omaha. This monumental turnout has shattered previous records and is rewriting the narrative for women’s sporting events.
Ordinarily, NCAA volleyball games draw crowds ranging from 15,000 to 20,000 enthusiasts. However, this unprecedented event rewrote the rulebook as fans flocked to the iconic Memorial Stadium, typically the domain of the University of Nebraska football team.
The University of Nebraska emerged victorious with a commanding 25-14, 25-14, and 25-13 triumph over their opponents.
Bekka Allick, a sophomore middle blocker, expressed her awe during a pre-match press conference, stating, “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It honestly leaves me speechless… It’s hard to grasp 94,000 people.” The significance of the moment was palpable, as the previous world attendance record for a women’s sporting event stood at 91,648, established during a UEFA Women’s Champions League soccer semifinal in 2022.
Wednesday’s colossal crowd not only rewrote global records but also set a new benchmark for NCAA regular season volleyball matches. This historic match shattered the previous record, established just last September when Wisconsin faced Florida in front of 16,833 spectators at a standard arena. Remarkably, Nebraska had held this record before and recaptured it by harnessing the capacity of Memorial Stadium, the highest-capacity structure on campus and in the state.
The anticipation for this landmark event had been brewing since February, marked as “Volleyball Day in Nebraska.” Tickets went on sale in April, and the response was nothing short of overwhelming. In a mere three days, more than 82,000 tickets were snapped up, accounting for over 4% of Nebraska’s entire population.
The Nebraska volleyball team’s legacy parallels that of the famed Cornhusker football team, with five national championships under their belt, the latest of which was secured in 2017. Heading into the match against their in-state rivals from Omaha, the American Volleyball Coaches Association ranked them 4th in the nation.
Nebraska’s athletic director, Trev Alberts, expressed his admiration for the fervent fan base, noting, “Nebraska fans never cease to amaze me. We knew the interest in this match would be extremely high, but to sell out Memorial Stadium is truly remarkable.” The sentiment was shared by Head Coach John Cook, who marveled at the sight of the packed stadium and admitted that there’s no way to fully prepare for such a monumental moment.
The Cornhusker Nebraska volleyball program has a history of setting attendance records. In 2021, they faced off against Wisconsin in a national championship match, drawing an audience of 18,755, the largest ever for an NCAA volleyball match. Furthermore, Nebraska boasts a staggering NCAA women’s sellout streak record of 306 consecutive regular-season matches.
While Memorial Stadium’s official football capacity stands at 83,406, more seats were made available at field level for this exceptional volleyball event. The largest crowd ever for a women’s sporting event in the U.S. was 90,185 during the 1999 Women’s World Cup Final between the U.S. and China at the Rose Bowl.
Coach Cook likened the magnitude of this event to the 1999 Women’s World Cup Final, which propelled soccer to new heights. He believes this occasion offers a similar opportunity for volleyball to shine on a grand stage.
As the Nebraska volleyball Cornhuskers team basks in this historic achievement, Coach Cook encapsulates the sentiment by emphasizing the importance of savoring every moment: “I’m just trying to own each moment… Because it’s all new to me too, I haven’t been through this.”
Bekka Allick echoed this sentiment, stating, “The biggest thing is we just don’t want to disappoint… We don’t want to take one moment for granted. We don’t know when this is going to happen again, if ever.”
The remarkable match was broadcast on the Big 10 Network, ensuring that this record-breaking event reached audiences far and wide.
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