International Volleyball

Kentucky, Louisville, Wisconsin, Nebraska to open NCAA volleyball season; Big Ten updates

Kentucky, Louisville, Wisconsin, Nebraska to open NCAA volleyball season; Big Ten updates

The 2024 college volleyball season will now both start and end in Louisville.

The AVCA announced Monday that Kentucky, Louisville, Wisconsin and Nebraska will participate in its First Serve Showcase on Tuesday, August 27, at the KFC Yum! Center, also the site of NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship in December.

The First Serve Showcase will start with Nebraska of the Big Ten playing Kentucky of the SEC at 7 p.m. Eastern, followed by Wisconsin of the Big Ten versus Louisville of the ACC. The matches will be broadcast on ESPN2.

“Louisville is the place to be for women’s college volleyball this year!” Louisville coach Dani Busboom Kelly said in a release. “We are looking forward to the new season, and this marquee event will be a great way to start it off.”

The event also builds upon a season in which television and attendance records seemed to fall every week. Nebraska played a match in its Memorial Stadium last August and drew a crowd of 92,003 while the NCAA title match drew an average audience of 1.7 million viewers.

“The AVCA is very excited to bring together four teams of this caliber to get the new season started,” AVCA CEO Dr. Jaime Gordon said. “AVCA First Serve offers another way to showcase the sport and continue the momentum from the record-setting 2023 season.”

After a three-day presale, tickets become available to the public on June 14.

The four participating teams all finished the 2023 season ranked in the top 10 of the final AVCA poll and are some of the best programs in the past five years.

Wisconsin has made the season’s final week in four of the past five years, including winning the 2021 NCAA title. The Huskers finished as the national runners-up in 2021 and 2023. Louisville reached the national semifinals in 2021 and 2022, while Kentucky won the 2020 national championship.

They also all have ties to coach John Cook, as they are his current school (Nebraska), his former school (Wisconsin) and programs led by two of his former assistants (Craig Skinner at Kentucky and Busboom Kelly at Louisville).

The NCAA granted a waiver because the event will happen before the allowed start date of August 30. The teams will also likely seek another waiver to move up their first practice date, which might overlap with the Big Ten Media Days from August 5-6 in Chicago.

The First Serve Showcase will be the second high-profile early-season event for the Badgers. Wisconsin also plays in the two-day Women’s College Volleyball…

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