Volleyball in Nebraska breaks the world attendance record for women’s sports

LINCOLN, Nebraska — The largest crowd ever for a women’s sporting event filled Memorial Stadium Wednesday night, as 92,003 fans watched the five-time NCAA champion Nebraska Huskies take on Omaha.

After the Huskers won the first two sets, the attendance record was announced to the red-clad Nebraska faithful, who cheered wildly.

Dubbed “Nebraska Volleyball Day,” the game was the culmination of months of planning for a program and a state that has long led the way in enthusiasm for the sport. The crowd in what is usually considered the home of Nebraska soccer broke the previous world record for attendance for women’s sports — 91,648 — which was set on April 22, 2022, in Barcelona, ​​Spain, for a Champions League game between FC Barcelona and Wolfsburg.

It also surpassed the previous record for a women’s event in the United States: 90,185 people attended the Women’s World Cup final between Team USA and China at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, on July 10, 1999. It was a historic event for women’s athletics overall. And women’s soccer in particular, the Americans won on penalties with Brandi Chastain’s winning kick.

The stakes weren’t comparable on Wednesday, as the 2023 college volleyball season has just begun. But the Nebraska program, the university, and the state took the attendance contest very seriously. Nebraska is known for its sellout streaks in both football and volleyball.

Nebraska drew in the largest crowd to watch an NCAA volleyball game: 18,755 for the NCAA Championship game between the Huskers and winner Wisconsin on December 18, 2021, at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

Wisconsin also set the attendance record for a regular season volleyball game this past September: 16,833. The Mummies wanted to go bigger, and they did.

“There’s a great business case and strategy around women’s athletics over the long term that college athletics may not have embraced,” said Trev Alberts, Nebraska athletic director and former football star. “And we believe here at Nebraska, long before I became athletic director, we invested heavily in women’s athletics, and you’re seeing the result of seeing the success of the volleyball program and the fan base surrounding it.”

Thousands of fans were already strolling outside the stadium early Wednesday afternoon, many of them flocking to the opening game between UNK and Wayne State.

By the time the Huskers were ready to pitch in, the stadium was packed, the Jets flew in overhead formation and the cheers grew louder. The volleyball team took to the field on which a court is built on the north side of the legendary stadium, which opened in 1923.

Nebraska football is celebrating a century of memories at Memorial Stadium this fall, and Wednesday’s volleyball game created another memorable event here.

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