Wednesday, 27 September 2023

International Volleyball

90,000+, a concert and even a Nebraska volleyball match: “This is all new to me, too”

90,000+, a concert and even a Nebraska volleyball match: "This is all new to me, too"

The Huskers practicing in Memorial Stadium on Tuesday evening/Lincoln Arneal photo

There are no trophies or titles on the line Wednesday night when Nebraska takes on Omaha, but it will be the biggest volleyball match of the year.


More than 90,000 tickets were sold for the match in Memorial Stadium as a part of Volleyball Day in Nebraska. The Huskers and Mavericks will play at 7 p.m. following an exhibition match between Division II powers Wayne State and Nebraska-Kearney. A concert from country musician Scotty McCreery will cap off the night.

“I don’t think really any of us are able to grasp what’s really happening and going down tomorrow, but I think it will hit us all once we are walking out of the tunnel,” Nebraska junior Merritt Beason, a transfer from Florida, said on Tuesday. “93,000 people is kinda hard to wrap your head around, and the fact that they’re here for us and here supporting us is kinda crazy to think about. It’s hard to put it into perspective and prepare for it honestly.”

The event was a massive undertaking for the Nebraska athletic department and university. In-person classes were canceled. Departments chipped in with logistics and planning. Alcohol was approved to be sold in the stadium for the second time following a Garth Brooks concert in 2021.

Nebraska announced the game six months ago, and administrators began figuring out how to put a volleyball court in the middle of a football stadium. Because of the crown of the field, it couldn’t be placed directly on the turf.

The events management team began setting up the court on Thursday night after the Huskers’ football practice. They laid a protective layer over the turf and constructed a reinforced platform for the Teraflex court.

Nebraska coach John Cook has seen a lot in his storied coaching career, but he doesn’t fully know what to expect for the match. He’s spent the last few weeks preparing his players for the event by reviewing the schedule and getting in the right frame of mind. However, he doesn’t know how to react to a stadium of fans cheering for volleyball.

“I’m just trying to own each moment. This is all new to me, too,” he said. “I did have this thought yesterday that this is as close as I’m going to be to being the head football coach at Nebraska playing down here. This is going to be awesome.”

While the matches will celebrate volleyball in the state, it will also be about building the future…

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