Gold medalist Walsh promotes NCAA event

University of Louisville volleyball coach Anne Kordes guided her team to a Big East Conference title on Sunday and then on Monday she was in the spotlight again, joining forces with three-time Olympic Gold Medalist Kerri Walsh to promote the NCAA Volleyball Championships to be held in Louisville next month.

It's been quite an exciting 24-hour stretch for the University of Louisville women's volleyball team.

The Cardinals (25-3) beat Cincinnati on Sunday to capture the Big East Conference regular-season title for the second consecutive year.

U of L will have the top seed in the Big East Tournament this week and with a No. 5 RPI rankings nationally is likely a host to for the first round of the NCAA Tournament later this month.

But on Monday, the Cardinals had a special guest.

Kerri Walsh, arguably the greatest U.S. female athlete at the moment and three-time Olympic gold medalist in sand volleyball, was in town and helping U of L and the NCAA promote the 32nd NCAA Women's Division I Volleyball Championships to be held at the KFC Yum! Center on Dec. 13 and 15.

"I love the fact that I can help the sport that I love and the sport that has treated me so well," Walsh said. "I have had quite a journey since I left the indoor arena. But my dreams and foundation all started in indoor when I was at Stanford.

"So, to be part of that journey still is a big thing for me and to be here in Louisville, a city that cherishes the sport and have done such a great job with volleyball. I am really proud to be here."

Tickets are on sale for the NCAA Final Four at all Ticketmaster locations and at the U of L ticket offices. The national semifinals will be held Dec. 13 with the national championship match on Dec. 15.

U of L officials said ticket sales are "going great," with the goal to break the all-time record of 17,430 fans for the 2008 Final Four in Omaha, Neb.

The NCAA brought Walsh in town to do several media opportunities. She will talk with the U of L volleyball team, have an open house at the Brown & Williamson Club and on Tuesday speak at Assumption High and Bellarmine University.

"Anything to help the sport I love," Walsh said.

Walsh and U of L coach Anne Kordes talked to a throng of media on Monday, generating some excitement in the event. The NCAA field will be announced on Nov. 25 with 64 teams competing for a shot to make it to Louisville.

"We are so excited to be able to host the Final Four," Kordes said. "Louisville is such a phenomenal town for hosting events. I really do believe the people in this town are going to come out and support it."

And there's a chance U of L could be playing.

In Kordes' second season, U of L won the Big East title and will open the Big East Conference Tournament on Friday against St. John's at Marquette. The semifinals are Saturday and the title game slated for Sunday.

"We thought we would have a chance at something like that (a Final Four run) if we got the RPI," Kordes said. "Right now, we are sitting on it. But the RPI could go away at any point. We still have to keep improving.

"I know what it would be like (to play in the Final Four at home). It would be unbelievable. I know this town and these fans. But we have a lot of matches to play. Right now, our goal it to win our and host. Then, we'll go from there."

The top 16 seeds in the NCAA Tournament field will host first and second round matches. The regionals are slated for West Lafayette, Ind., Omaha, Neb., Austin, Texas and Berkley, Calif.