92,003 fans at volleyball match set world attendance record for women's sporting event

Nebraska and Omaha play a college volleyball match Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023, at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb.
Nebraska and Omaha play a college volleyball match Wednesday in front of 92,003 fans at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb., breaking the world record for attendance at a women's sporting event. (Eric Olson / Associated Press)

Lexi Rodriguez's smile said it all.

As she and her Nebraska women's volleyball teammates walked through the Memorial Stadium tunnel Wednesday night, the junior defensive specialist/libero wanted to share her feelings with everyone on hand for the Cornhuskers' match against Omaha.

All 92,003 of them. That number of spectators is considered to be a world record for attendance at a women's sporting event.

“I was super excited so I just couldn’t hold a serious face," Rodriguez told reporters. "I just wanted to show everyone how happy I was and how excited I was. Yeah, it was crazy emotions, that's for sure, that tunnel walk.”

The Cornhuskers improved to 4-0 this season with a three-set sweep during what coach John Cook called "a big-time event in a big stadium."

Fans do the wave at a women's college volleyball match between Omaha and Nebraska at Memorial Stadium.
Fans do the wave during a break at the women's college volleyball match between Omaha and Nebraska at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb. (Kenneth Ferriera / Lincoln Journal Star)

The previous world record for attendance at a women's sporting event was considered to be 91,648, set last year when Barcelona defeated Real Madrid during a Champions League soccer match at Camp Nou Stadium. The U.S. record was considered to be 90,185, set at the Rose Bowl in 1999 when the U.S. defeated China in the Women's World Cup final.

The Times reached out to Guinness World Records to verify the current and previous records but did not receive an immediate response.

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The event called "Volleyball Day in Nebraska" also shattered the previous NCAA women's volleyball attendance record of 18,755, which was set during the Cornhuskers' loss to Wisconsin in the 2021 national championship match at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

"This is a big statement being made here today by all the teams in Nebraska that are part of this celebration," NCAA President Charlie Baker said during the televised coverage of an event that also featured an exhibition match between in-state Division II teams Nebraska-Kearney and Wayne State. "But it's also a big statement about the growth and the popularity of women's volleyball, which I think is great."

Nebraska students were given the day off from classes. Additional bleacher and field seating were added for the event, which helped create space for the largest crowd in the 100-year history of Memorial Stadium. The most people to attend a football game at the venue is 91,585 for a 2014 game between the Cornhuskers and Miami.

“Women's sports are a big deal here," Cook told reporters after Wednesday's event. "And they got to experience what the men get to experience on the same level as all the greatest football teams that have ever played here. We just got to experience it and maybe in some ways even more because of how the crowd interacted and the students on the field. I think that also set this thing off. I mean, you're surrounded by all these people on the field and then you've got the whole stadium part of it.”

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A representative from Nebraska athletics told The Times that the school has not yet discussed holding another such event in the future. The representative also said the volleyball team has no intention of abandoning its regular home, the Bob Devaney Sports Center, the 8,309-seat arena where the Cornhuskers have sold out 306 consecutive regular-season matches.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.