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Wisconsin's NCAA regional final match against Stanford on Dec. 10 had an announced sellout crowd of 6,012 and a turnout of 5,112 according to the number of tickets scanned.

The University of Wisconsin volleyball team has never played before as many home fans as it did in 2016.

That's not only true in the sense that the team's average attendance for 16 home matches of 5,927 was the highest in program history.

There also were more spectators actually filling the UW Field House bleachers for volleyball than ever before.

The Badgers played before an average of 4,499 fans at home this season, according to data from the number of tickets scanned at entry.

Four of the six largest counts of the actual number of spectators in the stands for matches in 10 years of tracking happened in 2016.

Unused tickets for UW volleyball matches, which have a capacity of 6,012 at the Field House with the balcony closed, still represented 24 percent of the announced attendance for the season.

But that share has shrunk in recent years — it was closer to 60 percent from 2007 to 2012.

The figures come from records of the number of tickets scanned when fans enter the Field House.

In sports, it's common to use the number of tickets sold or distributed to produce the event's attendance figure. But that often distorts the true number of spectators, which is represented by the ticket scans.

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For volleyball, UW started scanning tickets in 2007, when it set a school record with an average announced attendance of 5,050 that was bolstered by an announced crowd of 10,326 against Penn State. (That is the only game in the data provided by the athletic department for which not all spectator tickets were scanned, so it's thrown out of the averages compiled here.)

In 2007, however, 57 percent of the tickets purchased or distributed went unused. That percentage has been trimmed to 25, 33 and 24 over the last three seasons.

The 2016 season produced four of the six highest actual attendance figures for 144 home matches in the 10 years of data.

The Dec. 10 regional final match against Stanford drew 5,112, the second-highest total behind only the 5,156 recorded against Penn State on Sept. 24, 2014.

Matches on Oct. 12 against Minnesota (4,977, fourth), Nov. 23 against Iowa (4,941, fifth) and Sept. 23 against Ohio State (4,911, sixth) also ranked among the six highest scanned totals.

The NCAA regional semifinal against Ohio State on Dec. 9 presented challenges for UW and some fans because of its 1 p.m. Friday start time. Badgers coach Kelly Sheffield and his wife Cathy offered to pay for the first 1,000 tickets for students.

The result was an announced sellout of 6,012 and an actual turnout of 4,854, which ranked sixth of 16 home matches and was a better showing than in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament.


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