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Historic Gathering of Volleyball Enthusiasts Expected at Memorial Stadium, Lincoln

The current benchmark stands tall at 91,648, etched during a Champions League soccer showdown where Barcelona triumphed 5-2 over Real Madrid at Camp Nou Stadium in 2022.

LINCOLN, Neb. — A seismic shift is anticipated in the world of volleyball as the University of Nebraska prepares to host an extraordinary celebration of the sport at the iconic Memorial Stadium on Wednesday night.

The spectacle is set to encompass an exhibition clash between in-state Division II powerhouses, Nebraska-Kearney and Wayne State. Adding more fuel to the fire, a regular-season showdown will unfold between Omaha and the formidable fourth-ranked Cornhuskers. The crescendo will be punctuated by a live performance from country music luminary Scotty McCreery.

Eyes are trained on the Nebraska athletic department, as they boldly aim to rewrite history by shattering the women’s sporting event attendance record. The current benchmark stands tall at 91,648, etched during a Champions League soccer showdown where Barcelona triumphed 5-2 over Real Madrid at Camp Nou Stadium in 2022. "If there’s a place that can pull it off, it’s undoubtedly Nebraska," affirmed Huskers' rookie outside hitter Harper Murray.

Memorial Stadium, renowned as the bastion of Huskers football, typically accommodates just over 85,000 fervent fans. However, the event will exceed these boundaries, as field seating will augment its capacity. The volleyball court takes its place on the stadium's north end, a stage that usually belongs to the Huskers football team.

In the annals of American sports, the record for the largest attendance at a women’s sporting event is a resounding 90,185. This historic figure was etched into history during the 1999 World Cup soccer final between the United States and China at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

The Huskers' reputation is beyond reproach, with a streak of 306 consecutive regular-season sellouts to their name. Regrettably, Wednesday’s extravaganza won't be graced with the honor of contributing to this streak, as it is set to unfold off the traditional Devaney Center court. Since 2013, Nebraska has indisputably reigned supreme in attendance figures nationwide, commanding the pole position each season. Notably, eight of the top nine crowds in NCAA volleyball history boast the indelible mark of Nebraska's participation.

Huskers coach John Cook reminisced, evoking the memory of the watershed moment when the USA soccer team enthralled audiences at the Rose Bowl. "That was a pivotal juncture for women’s sports; soccer was catapulted into the limelight. This, I believe, is another propitious moment for volleyball to seize that spotlight," Cook asserted. With a whopping five national championships under their belt, Nebraska's volleyball program is a rarity within Division I, reaping profits amounting to $1 million the previous year, as disclosed by athletic department CFO Doug Ewald.

Tickets for the Volleyball Day in Nebraska extravaganza were snapped up avidly in late April. A staggering 82,000 passes were purchased in a mere three days. The entry fee stands at $25 for adults and a mere $5 for children, allowing fans from all walks of life to partake in this grand celebration.

The enormity of the occasion has led Chancellor Rodney Bennett to make the unprecedented decision of suspending classes for the day. The guest list features heavyweights like NCAA President Charlie Baker and Big Ten Commissioner Tony Petitti. The event will also serve as a reunion of sorts, welcoming Husker volleyball players who were instrumental in the legacy built by iconic coach Terry Pettit over the span of four decades. Adding to the fervor, high school teams stretching across the entire expanse of a 430-mile state will be granted leave from their academic obligations to ensure their presence.

Volleyball has risen to unprecedented heights, overtaking basketball as the preeminent girls' high school team sport. A staggering 455,000 players actively participate across the United States. Within Nebraska, this phenomenon is magnified, with the state proudly sitting atop the totem pole. With a population ranking of 38th on the national scale, just shy of 2 million inhabitants, it's intriguing to note that the state holds the 25th position in the number of high school volleyball players, with a robust tally of 7,000 enthusiasts.

Austyn McFadden


August 30, 2023 at 12:00:00 AM

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