The buzz you may have heard last Friday night (December 4) on the University of Wisconsin campus wasn’t just from the bars on State Street.
At 7 pm, the Wisconsin women’s hockey team was hosting Minnesota at the sold-out 2,200 seat LaBahn Arena.
At 8 pm, the Wisconsin volleyball team was hosting Iowa Sate in a second round NCAA tournament match at the nearly sold out (5500+) UW Field House. The start time for the match was changed from 7 pm to 8 pm so it could be shown on the Big Ten Network.
Why all the excitement? Simple.
The UW hockey team came into the two-game series against the third ranked Gophers with a 16-0 record and the country’s No. 1 ranking.
The UW volleyball team came into the match against Iowa State having won 13 straight matches with an overall record of 25-6 and the No. 6 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Both the hockey team and the volleyball team won Friday night – hockey in a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory over Minnesota and volleyball in an impressive 25-18, 25-15, 25-21 sweep of Iowa State. The volleyball team had advanced to Friday night’s match with a 3-1 victory over Oregon Thursday night. The hockey team followed up the 3-2 win with a 3-1 win on Saturday night before another sell-out crowd.
Not only was the Field House almost sold out, as one news account described it, there was a “rowdy crowd” at the match.
It was also a homecoming of sorts at the Field House for my wife Nancy and I. As longtime Badger basketball fans, it was our first time back at the Field House since the Kohl Center became the new home of Wisconsin Basketball in 1998. And what a noisy home court advantage for the volleyball team, which fed off of the crowd’s almost constant cheering for each point they won.
At some schools, both the hockey and volleyball teams might be under the radar without much fan support. Not at Wisconsin. Not now. Both of these teams are legitimate national championship contenders.
They’re not playing just to win. They’re competing to win it all.
And the fans have responded in-kind. With a buzz, and then some!!!
By John Finkler