During the “Volleyball Day in Nebraska” press conference back in February, university president Ted Carter issued a challenge to the Nebraska fan base for the outdoor match against Omaha at Memorial Stadium.
“I’m just not going to be happy with 20,000 or 30,000,” Carter said. “I want to challenge all Nebraskans. We have sold out this stadium for every sporting event we’ve put in that stadium since 1962. Let’s pack the stadium. Let’s sell this thing out and show the world how great we as Nebraskans are as sports fans.”
Nebraska fans apparently heard Carter’s challenge and took it personally, because Nebraska has declared the match a sellout.
We dared to dream big.
Husker Nation brought it to life. pic.twitter.com/gMM6uD8zkT
— Husker Volleyball (@Huskervball) April 27, 2023
According the the release, approximately 82,900 tickets were claimed in less than three days, approximately 17,900 of which were claimed during the season ticket holder sale on Tuesday. That doesn’t including on-field or club seating.
“Nebraska fans never cease to amaze me,” athletic director Trev Alberts said in a release. “We knew the interest in this match would be extremely high, but to sell out Memorial Stadium is truly remarkable. I’ve heard lots of talk about breaking the NCAA volleyball attendance record, but given the incredible demand for this event we want to explore every avenue to see if it’s possible to challenge the record for the most attended women’s sporting event in this country. We are truly grateful!”
Tickets were $25 for an adult and $5 for children and grant access to the stadium for Nebraska’s mach against Omaha, the exhibition between UNK and Wayne State before and the yet-to-be-announced concert following the volleyball. Purchases were capped at 12 tickets per buyer.
“There is No Place Like Nebraska. What more can you say?” Cook said. “We knew there was a lot of interest in this event based on the reaction we’ve had the last couple of months traveling around the state and the country. But to sell out more than 80,000 tickets already? It’s unreal. Our team was already pumped up about Volleyball Day in Nebraska, but now I can’t even imagine how excited they are going to be for this. It’s epic.”
Demand for tickets was so high that Nebraska ran into technical problems throughout the day on Wednesday as the volume seemed to overwhelm the systems in place, which shouldn’t have been surprising based on how the season ticket holder sales went on Tuesday.
“I’ve never seen a reaction like the stadium match because I just think it’s so unique,” Cook told assembled media after practice on Tuesday. “We have people asking you for 500 tickets, for example, or 35 tickets, like season ticket holders, alumni. They want to bring everybody, so I think this is an event that everybody wants to say ‘Hey, I was there.’ President Carter said we’re going to sell it out and based on the momentum I can see, I think — people are mad when they’re not getting their tickets. I think they had to limit the alumni today on how many tickets they can buy because they were going so fast.
“So it’s really exciting. Again, we want to make it a volleyball day of celebration. I thought Saturday was a celebration of Nebraska football and one of the best things I’ve ever seen with Coach [Frank] Solich and everything. It’s great. We’re trying to do some special things here and our fans are the best and they want to be a part of it.”
Nebraska currently holds a share of the record for any NCAA volleyball match as 18,755 packed Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, for the national championship match between the Huskers and Wisconsin on Dec. 18, 2021. Nebraska and Creighton set a regular season attendance record at CHI Health Center Omaha this past season before Wisconsin and Florida topped it with a crowd of 16,833 at the Kohl Center in Madison on Sept. 16, 2022, which played a part in inspiring the idea to hold a match at Memorial Stadium.
The world record for a women’s sporting event is 91,553 for a UEFA Women’s Champions League match in Spain on March 30, 2022 between Barcelona and Real Madrid. The record in the United States is 90,185 for the 1999 Women’s World Cup Final between USA and China at Rose Bowl Stadium.
Volleyball Day in Nebraska is set for Aug. 30 with UNK playing Wayne State at 4:30 p.m. CT and Nebraska versus Omaha following at 7 p.m.
Jacob Padilla has been writing for Hail Varsity since 2015. He covers football, volleyball men’s basketball and prep sports. He also co-hosts the Nebraska Preps Postgame and Nebraska Shootaround podcasts for the Hurrdat Media and Hail Varsity podcast networks. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.