Are you excited that we’re heading into fall with another Top 25 UW Badger team? While you might think I’m talking about football, I’m actually referring to our very talented UW women’s volleyball team. As of this weekend, the Badger football team is ranked 24th in the country, but even more impressive, our volleyball team is ranked 11th. While we love our fall football season around here, the team certainly gets its share of attention on sports media of all types, so we thought we’d highlight all the great things about our Badger volleyball team with a new season upon us.
Volleyball at UW and in the Madison area is enjoying a wonderful resurgence in popularity, and the success of our Badger team is a big contributor. While ranked 11th right now, the Badger volleyball women actually have enjoyed back-to-back top 5 finishes nationally, ending up No. 2 in 2013 and No. 4 in 2014. The team won the 2014 Big Ten Championship, and their average attendance in 2014 of 4,973 fans was third best in the nation.
While the team lost eight players this year due to graduation, there are several returning players who have proven themselves as strong and capable in their roles on the team, including Lauren Carlini, Taylor Morey (a Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year), Kelli Bates, and Haleigh Nelson. Head Coach Kelly Sheffield returns as well in his third season, part of the notable rise of the UW team. The excitement among these players and coaches for this season is palpable, many hoping to set more attendance records and to win big games against conference opponents. We certainly see them going far.
Over the years, we have thoroughly enjoyed attending UW volleyball games. If you’ve never watched a game live, the action is always exciting and the talent of the women is amazing. There’s never a dull moment. My kids still laugh at me about one match we attended together a few years ago. After a hard fought four games, I nearly knocked over one of the kids upon jumping up to cheer when UW won the match on the final point in one of those nail-biting two-point victory games.
An additional reason we enjoy going to games is to see them in the historic UW Field House. Similar to The Livingston Inn, the UW Field House is a local landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Home to UW volleyball and wrestling, construction on the building began in 1929 with an original capacity of 8,000. A balcony added in 1939 increased that number to 12,000. The Field House was home to UW Boxing from 1933-60, when it was a NCAA sport. In fact, the all-sport attendance record at the Field House was 15,200 for a boxing match in 1949. Despite its age, UW has regularly updated the facility. Among the work done for this volleyball season, patrons will enjoy 20 StadiumVision TVs in the concourse and free Badger WiFi throughout the Field House. The atmosphere of the Field House is also intimate and relaxing. It’s easy to walk around and find plenty of space for seats. Fans young and old can also line up outside of the locker room and cheer on the players as they come out at the beginning of the match.
Besides the talent of the athletes and the grandeur of the historic building, affordable tickets is one more reason many fans enjoy UW volleyball. While some college sporting events are becoming as expensive as professional sports, an outing for a volleyball match should fit the budget of almost any fan. General admission tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for youth. Many nights, you’ll see local high school teams attending thanks to free or reduced prices for their team. There are also ticket specials throughout the season, such as Ten Buck Wednesdays where $10 will get you four general admission tickets.
The UW volleyball season is just kicking into high gear with a couple of home games in October and many in November. We encourage you to get one on your calendar now and watch all those amazing digs, kills, and aces before the season passes you by. Fall sports are exciting in Madison, and we hope you find the opportunity to cheer on one of the top teams in the country right here at UW-Madison.