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Nebraska volleyball spring match sells out in 46 minutes

The crowd of 1,000 ticket buyers huddled under blankets and endured freezing cold and wind waiting to buy tickets to the May 4 Nebraska Cornhuskers volleyball game vs. Denver at the UNK Health and Sports Center.

KEARNEY — An estimated 1,000 Nebraska volleyball fans huddled under blankets and counted down the minutes until 10 a.m. Tuesday to buy tickets to the May 4 exhibition volleyball match in Kearney against Denver.

Tickets sold out in just 46 minutes, said Kearney athletic director Ryan Hogue. Fans were limited to four tickets each.

Husker VB ticket crowd

The crowd of 1,000 ticket buyers huddled under blankets and endured freezing cold and wind waiting to buy tickets to the May 4 Nebraska Cornhuskers volleyball game vs. Denver at the UNK Health and Sports Center.

“You can’t put a price on a Husker volleyball ticket or a Husker football ticket in this state. It’s just a hot ticket altogether,” Hogue said. “It doesn’t surprise me that we sold out in 46 minutes. It’s just a tribute to what people think of the Nebraska Cornhuskers, no matter the sport.”

Fans said they’re excited to get an early look at the Huskers during the spring match in Kearney.

“I have faith,” said a shivering Krissy Baczwaski of Kearney. “We lost some key players, but if we can get our serve-receive down we should be successful.”

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Baczwaski arrived at 3:30 a.m. to stake out her position about 25 feet from the door to the Expo Center at the Buffalo County Fairgrounds, where tickets were sold. A crowd of about 5,000 will fill the University of Nebraska at Kearney Health and Sports Center for the exhibition match.

The game originally was scheduled for Kearney High School — capacity 3,000 — but a couple of days after the KHS venue was announced, the game was rescheduled for UNK’s larger arena.

Most of the people who encircled the Expo Center arrived well before dawn and wore extra warm clothing, but some weren’t prepared for the 32-degree temperature and northerly wind that buffeted the fairgrounds.

Elijah Eggleston of Oconto wore long underwear, a flannel shirt and insulated overalls.

Husker Volleyball Elijah Eggleston

Elijah Eggleston

“I’m an avid hunter, so I’m kind of used to being cold,” said Eggleston, who pulled into the fairgrounds at 4:05 a.m.

When the Huskers take the court for the May 4 spring game at UNK’s Health and Sports Center, it will be the second time Kearney has hosted the Huskers. The first match in Kearney was in 2017.

Kearney Public Schools will remain the primary host for the May 4 game, working in partnership with Nebraska Athletics, UNK and the Kearney Visitors Bureau.

Tickets were $12 for upper-bowl bleacher seats and $25 for lower-bowl chairback seats. Ticket buyers had to pay cash and be at least 16 years old.

Tuesday’s weather was cold, but not so cold it put a damper on fans’ enthusiasm for the 2024 volleyball season. Most were optimistic about the Huskers’ prospects.

Dan Pinkerton of Kearney arrived at 1:30 a.m. He said he was buying tickets so he could attend the exhibition game with his daughter.

“We love volleyball,” Pinkerton said.

Huskers VB Shane Nordby

Shane Nordby

Shane Nordby, who lives in Kearney and coaches volleyball at Pleasanton High School, said, “The Huskers have got to learn consistency, that and to serve tough.”

Leticia Virgilio of Lexington attended the Volleyball Day in Nebraska when a world record crowd of 92,003 filled Memorial Stadium and watched the Huskers beat the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Wayne State College defeat the UNK Lopers.

Huskers VB Leticia Virgilio

Leticia Virgilio

“Now my sister and I want to watch the Huskers play indoors,” Virgilio said.

She arrived at the Expo Center at 11:30 p.m. Monday and then slept in her car until the early ticket buyers began arriving.

“I set alarms at 3, 4 and 5 a.m.,” she said.

Huskers VB Nikki Sonthana

Nikki Sonthana

Nikki Sonthana of Lexington predicts a national championship for the Huskers. “They definitely will win it all. They have determination, and they always put the effort into it.”

Jami Jackson of Kearney was just as optimistic.

Huskers VB Jami Jackson

Jami Jackson

“They can win it all. The Huskers have heart, dedication and communication,” Jackson said.

Jan Harvey of Red Cloud shivered as she pulled the hood of her parka over her head.

“I’m doing this for my granddaughter in Ord,” said Harvey, 71. “She’s in seventh grade, but she has a disability and plays all kinds of sports.”

Harvey said she was on the inaugural volleyball team at her high school and will never forget the thrill of the girls sport becoming a reality.

“I went on to play on the junior varsity team at Kearney State College,” she said. “It will be exciting to watch the Huskers with my granddaughter. The Huskers have heart, talent and desire.”

Huskers VB Jan Harvey

Jan Harvey

Hogue wasn’t surprised at how rapidly the allotment of 4,000-plus tickets were sold, but he said it was a relief knowing the die-hard fans who spent much of the night waiting in the cold were able to get tickets.

“I didn’t get here until about 8:30 a.m. and the line was probably 90% around the building,” Hogue said. “Anyone who was a die-hard who got here last night or early in the morning got tickets, which was good because they stood out in the bitter cold. I don’t know If I would have done that.” 

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