Nebraska Volleyball Sets New World Record for Attendance at a Women’s Sporting Event

A total of 92,003 fans packed into the university’s football stadium on Wednesday night

Dusk at a football stadium with fireworks in background
Nebraska's football stadium in Lincoln was so packed that additional seats were added on the field. Tyler Schank / NCAA Photos via Getty Images

A crowd of 92,003 fans decked out in scarlet and cream packed into the University of Nebraska’s football stadium in Lincoln on Wednesday—but they weren’t there to see a college football game.

Instead, they were cheering on the women’s volleyball team. In the process, they set a new world record for attendance at a women’s sporting event.

The previous widely accepted record was 91,648 people, set in 2022 during a soccer match at the Camp Nou Stadium in Barcelona, Spain.

Volleyball players lined up shoulder to shoulder
Nebraska's volleyball team has won five national championships. Steven Branscombe / Getty Images

Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium can officially accommodate a little more than 85,000 fans, but the school was able to increase that number on “Volleyball Day” by putting additional seats on the field. For reference, the state of Nebraska’s population is roughly 1.9 million.

In its bid to set the record, the university canceled classes for the day. High schools across the state excused volleyball players so they could attend. Per ESPN’s Elizabeth Merrill, the university even sold beer inside the stadium (alcohol isn’t allowed at football games) and held a concert featuring country artist Scotty McCreery after the match.

Nebraska’s governor, Jim Pillen, attended the event, as did Tony Petitti, the commissioner for the Big Ten Conference, which Nebraska joined in 2011, reports Eric Olson of the Associated Press (AP).

It’s no surprise that fans turned out in record numbers for Wednesday night’s exhibition matchup between the Cornhuskers and the University of Nebraska at Omaha, another campus within the broader University of Nebraska system located some 60 miles away.

The Huskers have sold out 306 consecutive regular-season matches, which are typically held indoors at the Bob Devaney Sports Center in downtown Lincoln. Every season since 2013, the team has held the top spot for attendance among all NCAA volleyball teams, per the AP. The Huskers have also drawn eight of the nine largest crowds ever recorded in NCAA volleyball history.

The 92,003 fans who turned up Wednesday also easily shattered the record for attendance at an NCAA volleyball match. The previous record—set when the Huskers played the University of Wisconsin in the national championship match in 2021—was 18,755 people.

The unprecedented turnout sends an important message to younger players, as Ann Stewart, who played at Nebraska in the 1970s, tells the Lincoln Journal Star’s Amie Just.

“Little girls can grow up now and not feel like it’s weird that they’re athletic,” says Stewart. “The boys had the football team. But now little girls have somebody to look up to, too. I’m so excited about the little girls who have Nebraska volleyball.”

Nebraska’s record-breaking match comes one year after the 50th anniversary of Title IX, which was enacted in June 1972. The groundbreaking federal civil rights law prohibits schools that receive federal funding from discriminating against students on the basis of sex.

The new law had a dramatic effect on women’s participation in sports. In 1971, roughly 294,000 girls in the United States played high school sports—compared to 3.7 million boys, according to the New York Times’ Maria Cramer. In 2019, by contrast, 3.4 million girls and 4.5 million boys played high school sports.

The record attendance numbers are “a statement on Title IX,” as fan Troy Pfannenstiel told the AP before the event.

“Having two daughters of my own, what Title IX has done for women’s sports is huge,” he added.

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