NCAA volleyball matches typically take place in arenas seating 5-10,000 fans. But Wednesday night, an announced crowd of 92,003 turned out to see the University of Nebraska host a volleyball match against the University of Nebraska-Omaha at Lincoln's Memorial Stadium, the regular home of the University of Nebraska football team.
It was the largest crowd ever to see a women's sporting event in history.
Nebraska won the match 25-14, 25-14 and 25-13.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," sophomore middle blocker Bekka Allick said at a press conference before the match Tuesday. "It honestly leaves me speechless… It's hard to grasp 94,000 people."
The previous world record for attendance at a women's sporting event was 91,648, set during a UEFA Women's Champions League soccer semifinal in 2022 between Barcelona and Wolfsburg.
Wednesday's crowd also shattered the record for most people to see an NCAA regular season volleyball match, set when Wisconsin played Florida last September in front of 16,833 fans at a standard arena. Nebraska had previously held that record and got it back Wednesday by opening the highest-capacity structure on campus and in the state: Memorial Stadium.
The match was announced in February as part of "Volleyball Day in Nebraska" with tickets going on sale in April. In three days, more than 82,000 tickets were sold, enough to seat more than 4% of Nebraska's entire population.
Nebraska volleyball's success
Nebraska volleyball has built a legacy as storied as the Cornhusker football team, winning five national championships, the most recent in 2017. The American Volleyball Coaches Association ranked them 4th in the country heading into Wednesday night's match against in-state rival Omaha.
"Nebraska fans never cease to amaze me," Nebraska athletic director Trev Alberts said at the time. "We knew the interest in this match would be extremely high, but to sell out Memorial Stadium is truly remarkable."
"Everywhere I go in town, everywhere you go, people are talking about this," Head Coach John Cook said Tuesday. "To see that place packed, there's no way to prepare for it."
Past attendance records
The Cornhusker volleyball program has broken attendance records before. In 2021, they battled Wisconsin for a national championship before 18,755 fans, the largest crowd to ever see an NCAA volleyball match. Nebraska also has the NCAA women's sellout streak record at 306 straight regular-season matches.
Memorial Stadium's official capacity for football is 83,406, but more seats were available at field level for volleyball Wednesday night. The most people to ever see 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.
"I keep flashing back to when the soccer team played in the Rose Bowl," Cook said. "I can still vividly remember that whole scene, the whole match… That was a big moment for women's sports and it really shot soccer up. And this is another great chance for that to happen for the sport of volleyball."
As for Wednesday, Cook said he and his team are trying to soak everything in.
"I'm just trying to own each moment," Cook said, "Because it's all new to me too, I haven't been through this."
"The biggest thing is we just don't want to disappoint," Allick said. "[Nebraska Omaha] is a respectful competitor and so we want to give them our best shot as well. But the other thing is we don't want to take one moment for granted."
"We don't know when this is going to happen again, if ever," Allick added.
The match was broadcast on the Big 10 Network.
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