Basketball and baseball pull the most numbers when it comes to attendance at Long Beach State sporting events, but Saturday marked a new men’s volleyball record set at the Walter Pyramid, with 4,560 in attendance to watch the No. 1 Long Beach State men’s volleyball team take on No. 2 UCLA.
The men’s volleyball team has held the top ranked spot in the nation since late January, but attendance has averaged in the low thousands. However, Saturday was a whole different experience. It all started before the match.
I understood how impactful this match was going to be once I pulled into the Walter Pyramid and there was gridlock traffic in the parking lot. It took about 15 minutes to find a parking spot, and in that time all I could do was stare at the hundreds of people standing in line to buy a ticket.
It wasn’t just fans from both schools that were there; it ranged from youths who are passionate about volleyball, to ex-players and city officials. Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia even made an appearance to watch his alma mater face the Bruins. The Long Beach community was here to support the top-ranked school in the nation.
The venue was packed to the point where chairs were brought out for fans to watch from the top of the stadium. Everyone was electric from start to finish. There was never a point where the place went quiet.
The crowd was about 90 percent in support of Long Beach, while the rest were either UCLA fans or just in it to watch a classic matchup.
This was my first time going to a Long Beach State sporting event as a fan, and the fan experience really lived up to the hype. Sitting in student section felt like being stuck in a can of sardines, but it made for an overall better experience.
At the end of the game the crowd was ecstatic, as Long Beach was able to pull off the victory with ease. The team continued its undefeated streak and the fans went wild. The band’s roaring music accompanied by the Walter Pyramid’s energy led to an immersive experience that is rare to most schools.
What really sold me on what it is to be a nationally top-ranked team was the amount of fans, young and old, that made their way down to take pictures with players and coaches. These fans had just witnessed their heroes play, like if I had met my personal hero, Kobe Bryant. This was a big deal to the community as a whole.
No one knows how long the men’s volleyball team will be able to keep the top spot in the nation, but for now, the community should appreciate and continue to support what we have here at Long Beach State before it’s finally gone.