The Nebraska volleyball team already has a gameday entrance that is the envy of many college volleyball programs.
That’s because when the Huskers sprint out of the locker room a few minutes before the match, they know there will be lots of fans there, from the front row to the standing-room-only section at the top of the arena — about 8,000 spectators in total.
But next fall, the Husker volleyball players will get to feel and experience one of the most well-known and powerful entrances in college sports with a Tunnel Walk at 85,000-seat Memorial Stadium.
For one match this season — and maybe ever — the Huskers are moving their show a few blocks down the road from the Devaney Sports Center to Memorial Stadium.
Last week, Nebraska announced that it will play Omaha at Memorial Stadium on Aug. 30, during the second week of the season. Ticket sales begin April 25.
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The stadium match was announced with a video posted on social media with Nebraska players Lindsay Krause and Lexi Rodriguez doing a preview Tunnel Walk at the stadium.
In the video, the players touched the famous horseshoe by the Nebraska football locker room (Rodriguez had to jump; Krause did not). Then they make the turn and walk the 25 yards to the entrance of the football field.
The final shot is the massive gates swinging open to Memorial Stadium on a dark, cold night with the glow of red lights and the words, “through these gates” on the video.
“It was insane,” Krause said of the video. “I get chills every time I watch it. I know it’s coming, and I still get chills watching it. It was so amazing.”
The video shoot came a few days before the stadium match was announced, and a little ahead of when coach John Cook told the team the stadium match was a done deal and would soon be announced.
“Being a part of it was so cool,” Krause said. “Getting to see the shots that they were taking of us. Seeing it all come together.”
There is usually at least one Nebraska football game each season where the schedule lines up and players from the Husker volleyball team can attend a football game.
Now they will get to experience the Tunnel Walk in the most powerful way.
“We have something similar when it comes to volleyball when we run out of our locker room for warmups, but it’s definitely not of the same magnitude, especially with the amount of people that they have there, and the classic Tunnel Walk song that they have,” Krause said. “So just hearing that over us in that video walking through it was a surreal experience just to see it, and not even experience it yet. But just to see the possibility of it.”
Krause and freshman middle blocker Bekka Allick attended a news conference to formally announce the event that included Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen and university leaders. During a photo op, Allick told Pillen that she really liked the cowboy boots he was wearing.
The 60-second video has received a massive response on social media. Across four Athletic Department official accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube) the video has been viewed 588,000 times, according to Nick Burkhardt, assistant athletic director for creative media.
The video has 1.8 million impressions on social media, and 106,328 engagements.
The video also played on a loop on the massive video screen in the end zone of Memorial Stadium on the day of the announcement.
Krause was emotional listening to Pillen talk about “Volleyball Day in Nebraska.”
This is her home state, and her sport.
“I can’t really put into words how much this sport has meant to me, and how much it’s developed me as a player and person,” the Papillion native said.
She said it’s an honor to be part of a program and Athletic Department that values and supports volleyball so much — including a stadium match that will take hundreds of staff members to plan and pull off.
“Just the thought of it is insane,” Krause said. “I’m so excited, and I can’t even imagine the amount of people that we can get to pack in here.”
The match will be very different. Cook often talks about how the different air flows in arenas can impact the movement of the volleyball on serves. Now that airflow — or just wind — could go up several notches.
The players joked about how they’ll be ready for the wind after the beach volleyball season that includes outdoor matches in Hawaii and California. They also joked about wearing sunglasses.
“I’m going to be honest, it’s going to be so weird,” Krause said. “But I’m so excited.”
Reach the writer at 402-473-7435 or [email protected]. On Twitter @LJSSportsWagner.