If 2023 has proved anything in athletics, it’s that there is a reason to tune in to women’s sports.
On August 30, 2023, the University of Nebraska offered a new way to view collegiate women’s volleyball – through the bright lights and outdoor views of a football stadium. A total of 92,003 fans packed into Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb., to enjoy the high intensity of volleyball. What was the result? The largest attendance number ever for a women’s sporting event.
Just six months prior to the Nebraska spectacle, the 2023 NCAA Division I National Championship Women’s Basketball game also made history when 9.9 million people watched LSU defeat Iowa, making it the most-viewed NCAA women’s basketball game.
So, what’s next?
As the LSU Volleyball team gears up for SEC play this season, it uses those two numbers as daily reminders that anything is possible.
Tonya Johnson is in her second year as the head coach of the Tigers, and she has already seen improvement in the attendance numbers in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. In comparison to the 2022 season, LSU Volleyball season tickets have increased by 151.21% in 2023.
“Our fans have responded to our wishes to have more people in the PMAC,” Johnson shared. “Every year I expect those numbers to get better as we continue to put a better product on the floor. That’s important for me to have people in the stands cheering for our players. They work their tails off and they deserve that.
“The attention that we’re getting because of all these record-setting trends has been huge for women’s athletics in general. I think it’s taken us a little bit of time to get to this point, but hopefully, there is no turning back. We want those numbers to keep projecting up. I hope that people continue to understand that women’s athletics is fun. It’s fun to watch. Our female athletes are super-talented and put in the work. We’re ready to put on a show for people, but we want people to be in the stands cheering for us.”
The Tigers are eager to prove that their NCAA Tournament appearance last season wasn’t a fluke. The team is filled with notable returners including graduate students Anita Anwusi and Sanaa Dotson. The coaching staff has also utilized transfers by adding Jade Demps, Erin Carmichael and Emily Mitter. The team features six freshmen on the roster; among them is standout Jurnee Robinson, who has had an immediate impact.
Robinson is an outside hitter from Simpsonville, S.C. She began her volleyball career at the age of 12 in sixth grade and was selected to the USA Volleyball National Team Development Program. Now, Robinson is an integral part of the team for the Tigers. Through the first three weekends of the season, she had surpassed 100 kills, and she was named SEC Freshman of the Week on August 28.
“I think Jurnee is a special player,” Johnson said. “She’s going to do great things here. We’re excited that she’s here and wearing purple and gold. She has a bright future, and it’s only going to get better for her.”
“Being a part of a team is my favorite part about volleyball,” Robinson said. “You have play with everyone to get a point, you can’t do it by yourself. My mindset on the court is to give it all I got. Give it 100% every day.”
Johnson, Robinson, and the entire LSU Volleyball team encourage everyone to attend the Tigers’ home games this season, even those who don’t know much about the sport.
“Volleyball is a lot of fun to play and watch,” said Robinson. “We have fun on and off the court that shows at the net and in our sideline cheers. I think people would have more fun than they’d expect when they attend our matches.”
As the collegiate volleyball season continues, expectations are high for teams nationwide. Fans expect a show, and women’s sports have proven to be very entertaining this year.
LSU plays its first home SEC match of the season at 7:30 p.m. CT on Friday, September 29, against Missouri. Visit www.LSUtix.net for ticket information.