The 2021 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship is always a big affair. Saturday it was even B1Gger. Two Big Ten teams and the biggest crowd in the history of this competition made sure of it.
After a pair of back-and-forth national semifinal matches on Thursday night, Wisconsin and Nebraska advanced to the national championship on Saturday night. In front of 18,755 fans, the Wisconsin Badgers captured their first national title.
On Thursday, the first semifinal saw Wisconsin defeat Louisville 3-2 to put the Badgers in the final for the second time in the last three years. The second semifinal saw Nebraska beat Pitt 3-1 to return to the national championship for the second time in the last four years. Wisconsin targets its first national title, while the Huskers aim for their fifth since 2000.
For a full recap of the championship, head to ncaa.com.
Teams arrived in Columbus earlier in the week, traveling in style on team-branded buses for the first time in NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship history. Upon arrival, each team was greeted with a personalized welcome video compiling well wishes from friends and family.
“So far Columbus has done an amazing job. One of the coolest things I’ve ever seen – when we got to the hotel they played a video of all the girls’ parents and families giving pump-up encouragement messages. It was very creative and cool and got this trip off to a great start, so thank you for that and all the hospitality that we’ve seen so far. I remember in ’16…Columbus, this place knows how to run Final Fours and big events I think they do a lot of other championships and things as all, so we’re excited to be here.” - Nebraska Head Coach, John Cook
Wednesday's itinerary included practices, down time in the student-athlete lounge and a taste of Columbus with food and activities from local businesses. Due to COVID protocols, a traditional banquet featuring all four teams was canceled, so the teams split up to separate Cameron Mitchell venues for welcome dinners. Some of the off-day activities included:
- Creating custom stamping bracelets with Red Giraffe Designs
- Candle making with Penn & Beech Candle Co.
- Christmas cookie decorating with Cameron Mitchell Restaurants
- Enjoying delicious ice cream from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams
Columbus is hosting the championship for the second time, previously hosting in 2016. Additionally, Columbus is the first city in 37 years (Los Angeles, 1984) to host the NCAA Men's and NCAA DI Women's Volleyball Championships in the same year. The men's title was decided at the Covelli Center on Ohio State's campus in May.
For more coverage of the championship weekend, check out these stories:
- The Columbus Dispatch: Everything you need to know about the NCAA Volleyball Championship in Columbus
- The Columbus Dispatch: Hilliard-based company is at the heart of the NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship
- The Columbus Dispatch: Columbus is volleyball
- Columbus Business Journal: This NCAA event in Columbus could bring $14M in economic impact, largest since COVID-19 started
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