A loss for the Mavs gives way to a win for women

Fans packed Memorial Stadium setting all kinds of attendance records. Photo by Andrew Smith

Lincoln, Neb – The UNO volleyball team played an integral role on a historic day for women Wednesday as 92,003 volleyball fans filed into Memorial Stadium. The Mavs dropped all three sets to the Huskers on Volleyball Day in Nebraska, but the numbers on the jumbotron overshadowed the score on the scoreboard.

Volleyball Day in Nebraska kicked off with Wayne State sweeping Kearney in an effort to prime the volleyball pump. As the sun began its descent and the first game ended, the stadium began to fill up and it was clear that the standing attendance record was in trouble. Palpable electricity filled the air as the Nebraska volleyball team prepared for its first-ever tunnel walk. With the energy levels as high as they have ever been in Memorial Stadium, the two Nebraska teams took the court and put on a show for the 92,003 spectators.

After the Huskers dominated the first two sets 25-14, the teams went back into the locker rooms for an intermission. During the intermission it was confirmed that the NCAA volleyball, United States women’s sports, and worldwide women’s sports attendance records had been broken. The crowd erupted into a frenzy, aptly displaying the love and adoration for women’s sports that courses through the veins of Nebraskans. “I think it’s really cool for Nebraska because you wouldn’t think that this would be the place,” said Ellie Gilbreath, a UNO freshman.

Nebraska handily won the third and final set, which gave way to a special post-game presentation. Immediately after the game, head coach of the Nebraska volleyball team John Cook gave thanks to the fans in attendance. “As we say, you’re the best fans in the country. You guys proved it,” said Cook. “The impossible is possible. Thank you. There is no place like Nebraska.” The emotional Cook ended his speech which allowed the raucous crowd to continue their celebration of women’s sports.

Despite being largely outnumbered and dominated on the court, the small portion of UNO faithful present still basked in the once-in-a-lifetime experience. “You think about the ratio of us being down here to everybody else,” said McKenzie Bartleet, a UNO freshman. “It’s such a full experience.”

The players who had to focus on the volleyball match itself still did not lose sight of the game’s importance. Lexi Rodriguez, the star libero for Nebraska, recognized what this meant for the children in attendance. “It’s huge for little girls to see a women’s sport and volleyball being played on this big of a stage,” said Rodriguez. “Having this to kind of look up to is something that a lot of little girls will kind of keep in the back of their mind.”

The previous volleyball attendance record holder, Wisconsin, does not have a stadium on campus with the capacity to beat the new record.