Now that the UoL women's sports season for 2021-22 has ended, it's time to hand out a few honors and tributes for accomplishments. First off, there were a huge amount of outstanding plays, wins and performances from the 12 women's sports that Louisville has participating in DI athletics and. perhaps that could be another column down the road for the Cardinal Couple writing staff.
Today, though, it's the "Paulie's" and I'll be awarding three Paulie awards in today's column.
-- Most Outstanding Player Performance
-- Most Outstanding Team
-- Most Outstanding Head Coach
So, dim the house lights, strike up the orchestra and get "Big voice guy" (or Sean Moth, I'd be fine with either) announcing the winners.
MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER PERFORMANCE
We had a slew of top notch performances in the 2021-22 season. Who could forget Hailey Van Lith's 34 points against Clemson in early February in Littlejohn Arena? Anna DeBeer's 343 kills were remarkable and Carmyn Greenwood batting .400 for the Softball season was incredible and so much fun to watch.
As good as they were, though, none of them were DI National Champions. The Most Outstanding Player Performance honor and award goes to Gabi Leon, who won the NCAA Championships Pole Vault. There is one National Champion on the UofL campus for 21-22 and it's the redshirt senior from Grand Rapids, MI -- Gabi Leon.
MOST OUTSTANDING TEAM/SQUAD
There's no doubt that several teams had outstanding 2021-22 seasons. How about Field Hockey going 16-4 and going undefeated in the ACC regular season? We also can't forget Louisville women's basketball and their outstanding 29-5 season and 16-2 ACC mark, plus a NCAA Final Four appearance.
The Paulie goes to Volleyball, though. A 32-1 record, 18-0 in conference and trip to the Final Four. A season to remember for the remarkable VolleyCards and....guess what?....they're loaded again for the 2022-23 season. Life is good in the L&N Ferderal Credit Union Arena..
MOST OUTSTANDING COACH
Another tough one to award a "Paulie" for and I doubt many of you would have a problem if this category went to Justine Sowry or Dani Busboom Kelly.
The Paulie goes to WBB head coach Jeff Walz, though. He went into the season without last year's "do everything" guard Dana Evans. He came up with a squad that featured three transfers, a powerful rotating duo at center and a guard that the entire nation knew and hung on Hailey's every dribble, pass, shot and cut. He also built a team that was not afraid of hard work, playing under pressure or being "second fiddle" in their own conference. They lived by the motto "work is work" and they went to work each and every day.. His reserves were spot-on perfect and his coaching staff so effective and efficient. When it comes down to it, a head coach can be the difference between a .500 squad and a team going to "the dance".
They were a FINAL FOUR Team and had the misfortune of matching up against a South Carolina team that was slightly better. And, that pantry is still stocked.
So, there it is Got a different view on the awards? Lemme know.