Marquette Volleyball announces match-up against Wisconsin Badgers inside Fiserv Forum for 2023

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(Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

On Saturday afternoon, during the Marquette men’s basketball game against the Wisconsin Badgers, Marquette Athletics announced on the video board that the volleyball team will be taking on in-state rival Wisconsin inside Fiserv Forum Sept. 13, 2023.

It will be the first NCAA Division I Volleyball game to be played at Fiserv Forum.

“We are thrilled to host NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball next fall for the first time,” President of the Milwaukee Bucks and Fiserv Forum Peter Feigin said in a statement. “Marquette and Wisconsin are having outstanding seasons and their interstate rivalry will generate an exciting match next year.”

The Golden Eagles just made their second Sweet 16 in program history after taking down No. 13 Georgia Tech, while the Badgers are the defending national champions and have made the Sweet 16 again this year.

“We like the home-and-home with Wisconsin and they did Kohl Center this year with a Florida match, we’ve been dying to try to pull something like this off,” Marquette Volleyball head coach Ryan Theis said during halftime. “We’ve sold out last time we were at our place (Al McGuire Center), we’ve been excited trying to make it happen and we found a date that would work.”

Theis said that this game will not only benefit the two teams involved but the Big East conference as well.

“We hope it’s huge for the Big East if the Big East is strong in the sport of volleyball. It not only benefits us, it benefits RPI, it benefits their fan bases, their ability to recruit,” Theis said. “Creighton and Nebraska play a similar back-and-forth situation that they’ve started to fill out arenas and I think for the sport of volleyball, it’s equally as big.”

Theis said that the team is excited about the atmosphere that comes with the potential of playing in front of 17,385 fans at Fiserv Forum.

“They come to basketball games to watch Marquette play and they’re in awe of the environment and love the support.” Theis said.  “They get on shuttle to come to this and they pack a few thousand person student section to cheer for Marquette and now that’s going to be for them so I think that means a heck of a lot to them.”

Theis said that there wasn’t a big reaction from the team while they tried to process what this game means.

“You get a couple of smiles, you get a couple of “Oh wow that’s cool’, you don’t get a huge applause because they got to go “What does that mean?” Theis said.”Then you say we’re going to try and break the attendance record of 17,300 fans at a volleyball game and they just look at you (and say) “Ok” and that’s what makes them great, there’s a whole lot of trust and when I tell them things that are for the good of volleyball and the program they smile and go ‘sounds great’.”

As a Wisconsin native, Theis said it’s huge for him to have this opportunity to coach in this game and break the attendance record.

“I’m from here, I’m Madison born and I went to UW-Milwaukee, I never thought I’d coach a volleyball match in front of 17,000 people, so for me, it means a lot,” Theis said.

Back on Sept. 16, the Badgers hosted the then No. 16 Florida Gators took down Wisconsin at the Kohl Center, breaking the NCAA Volleyball attendance record with 16,883 total fans in the building. The record was previously broken a week before on Sept. 7, when then No. 2 Nebraska Huskers played the then No. 17 Creighton Blue Jays at the CHI Health Center in Omaha, Nebraska, in front of 15,797 fans in attendance. 

“The sport has never been better than it is right now, and we are excited to continue this great rivalry and move it into bigger venues where more fans can experience watching the match in person.” Wisconsin head coach Kelly Sheffield said in a statement.

This won’t be the first time Fiserv Forum will be hosting a sport other than basketball within the arena, as last year, the Wisconsin men’s hockey team played in the inaugural Kwik Trip Holiday Face-off last season where the Badgers won the title, taking down Yale and then No. 16 Providence with 6,225 fans filling in the seats.

As of now, there is no nailed-down plan of how the tickets will be distributed, but Theis said he hopes there will be more blue and gold in the stands than red.

“I don’t know how those logistics will work between the two schools and between Fiserv but I sure hope we give a lot of our season ticket holders, our fans, our students, I hope we get first crack at it,” Theis said. “Hopefully it’s 80% blue and gold and 20% red.

This article was written by Jackson Gross. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @JacksonGrossMU.