NCAA finals attendance better but still near historic low

Attendance at the NCAA Tournament finals was an improvement from last season but was still one of the lowest in the championship event’s almost 50-year history.


The 2,745 people at Rec Hall to watch Ohio State sweep BYU on Saturday was the third lowest all-time attendance for the NCAA Tournament finals since the college men’s volleyball event started in 1970.

Despite becoming the third NCAA Tournament final to not break the 3,000 attendance threshold, this year’s attendance was more than a 300-person improvement from last year’s title match at Stanford.

Similar to the 2015 NCAA Tournament, this year’s host site of Penn State experienced an attendance disadvantage without having a local team in the NCAA Tournament field. In addition, the championship attendance during the university’s graduation weekend was about a 500-person increase from the semifinals on Thursday.

This was the second consecutive time Ohio State won the NCAA championship with Penn State as the host school. Ohio State defeated UC Santa Barbara in five games to win the 2011 national title with 3,683 people in attendance at Rec Hall.

Penn State also had more than 5,000 people at the NCAA Tournament finals when it played host to the championship event in 2002 and 2006.

One Reply to “NCAA finals attendance better but still near historic low”

  1. Vinnie

    There is a case here for the Finals to be played in LA every year. When held there these matches have the greatest drawing power. It is easy for most fans to get to LA – fly in, drive, or catch a bus. The notion that playing these matches in Palo Alto was good for Stanford or volleyball is badly flawed. And I love just being on Stanford Campus let alone in the Maples Centre to watch volleyball.

    Also there has to be a much more professional approach to everything to do with this tournament – there are so many aspects that are handled incompetently and crudely so I will just mention one. The press conferences are a joke. Everything is like amateur hour – this is not what the fans want, seek , or need to boost their interest in the great game of volleyball.

    Separately, it was so great to see Ohio win this tournament with a modern version of the game. BYU and UCLA were both beaten because they still play the old version of men’s volleyball. Ohio built their game from the service line. They play a serve and pass game of volleyball. It is courageous. It is great to watch. It is a high risk game plan but it works. They have a multiple attack plan – they can do this because they bring continued heat and pressure from the service line. They attack from the outside and the opposite side and the middles. The blocking of the opposition is always under pressure – even when they win what 12-2 as BYU did in the final – because they are only set-up to block one attacking option – in this case the outside hitter and thus failed miserably with opposite and middles.

    Meanwhile Ohio State’s passing game is the key to siding out at over 70%. If a team keeps siding out that well then a 24-23 advantage to BYU ends up being a 32-30 loss after umpteen set points for them and only one to Ohio. This emerging version of volleyball has more elements to it and there are lots of variations so the game will improve in quality and as a spectacle – improvement will come from tactics like running two liberos (one for serve receive and one for defence) or playing a highly mobile zone defence – what I call ‘up’ (close to net) that cover the tips, rolls, and tool shots and ‘back’ which is the opposite (patrolling the baseline and the corners to retrieve the big hits from middles and dedicated hitters. The best equipped for this new game is Ohio, Long Beach, Saint Francis, UCSB, etc. But more will adopt this approach next season – hopefully……..

    Richard Lipscombe

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