Let’s not kid ourselves, there are some crazed college volleyball fan bases out there that consistently pack the seats every night. So we wanted to look at the venues that really raise the decibel levels with the most seats to fill up.
To be clear, we’re mostly not counting teams that play in their current men’s basketball facility since those traditionally have a much higher capacity than the other indoor facilities that volleyball teams play in. Although Hawaii is the one clear exception since it is consistently one of the leaders each year in volleyball attendance.
With that distinguished, here are nine of the largest venues in college volleyball.
*Note: All capacity figures are according to the university websites or recent news articles.
Hearnes Center (13,611) — Missouri
The Hearnes Center was arguably the best place to catch a college volleyball match in 2013 when the Missouri Tigers marched to a 34-0 regular-season record. It’s difficult to fill up more than 13,000 seats for a regular season volleyball match, but the Tigers still managed to pack in more than 7,000 fans twice during that season. Hearnes was the home of the men’s basketball team until Mizzou Arena opened in 2004.
Stan Sheriff Center (10,300) — Hawaii
The Rainbow Wahine are a main attraction every year on the island in the Pacific. It hosted the 1999 NCAA women's volleyball national championship and, as mentioned before, the fans continue to show out each season inside the Stan Sheriff Center. In 2018, 7,476 fans watched — and arguably helped — Hawaii upset Cal Poly in a raucous environment.
Memorial Coliseum (8,500) — Kentucky
A common theme on this list will be venues that once housed men’s basketball team, and it’s tough to find a bigger basketball brand than Kentucky, which yielded the spacious Memorial Coliseum to the volleyball team once Rupp Arena opened in 1976. Kentucky has called Memorial Coliseum home since the program began in 1977. In 2017, during the regional finals against Nebraska, the arena held 4,464 people.
Bob Devaney Sports Center (7,907) — Nebraska
If there was a prized jewel in the volleyball landscape it would have to be Devaney at Nebraska. Once Pinnacle Bank Arena opened in 2013-14 for the basketball teams, Devaney got a facelift to open the 2013 season. The renovation knocked the capacity of more than 13,000 down to 7,907, which was double the size of Nebraska's old home, NU Coliseum. The Huskers averaged 8,210 fans per match in 2016 and more than 8,200 again in 2017.
UW Field House (7,052) — Wisconsin
Ｊｕｍｐ ｊｕｍｐ ｊｕｍｐ pic.twitter.com/lBnY4KKCG6— Wisconsin Volleyball (@BadgerVB) October 20, 2018
Wisconsin hit a school-record of 5,980 fans on average in 2017. That came without the entire upper decks of UW Field House — which was constructed in 1930 — due to that area not being up to code. Well, the athletic department gave it some renovations and added 1,040 seats to bring the capacity to 7,052. The old feel of the gym and the stands being built on top of the court makes this one of the best atmospheres.
Carmichael Arena (6,822) — North Carolina
How cool would it be to play in the same gym that Michael Jordan played in? The North Carolina Tar Heels volleyball team has shared this facility with the women’s basketball, wrestling and gymnastics teams. Due to renovations and improvements to the venue, the capacity shrunk to its current state of 6,822 from more than 10,000.
Rec Hall (6,502) — Penn State
Another iconic venue of college volleyball has more to do with the team that plays there than anything else. Constructed in 1929, Rec Hall is one of the oldest buildings in college volleyball and has continued to pack the stands with Nittany Lions fans every year making it one of the loudest venues, as well.
Smith Fieldhouse (5,637) — BYU
Smith Fieldhouse provides one of the more distinct environments in volleyball, and that's not just because of the 5,000 some fans it can fit in the seats. From every angle, the fans are packed tight to the court and the student section can make opposing teams feel like they're right on top of them. In 2018 against in-state rival Utah, BYU broke its single-game program attendance record with 5,472 fans.
Maturi Pavilion (5,500) — Minnesota
Maturi Pavilion — better known as “The Pav” — has the classic field-house look with seats stretching more toward outward than upward and a curved ceiling. One of the more unique features is that the facility has an upper-deck seating area on just one side. It certainly helps the Gophers are one of the top teams in the country year in and year out, but this town is crazy for volleyball and The Pav is certainly one of the best atmospheres in the sport with locals filling it out every match.
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