25. Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings
Commonly regarded as “the greatest beach volleyball team of all time,” Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings both grew up in sunny Southern California, and actually even competed against one another on occasion while in high school. Walsh was a first-team All-American all four years at Stanford University, where she won two NCAA championships and was selected co-National Player of the Year her senior year. May-Treanor led Long Beach State to college volleyball’s first-ever undefeated season and her own NCAA championship, and was also named Player of the Year twice.
As impressive as these individual accomplishments were, it wasn’t until the two Pacific Coast protegés combined forces in 2001 that records really started to fall and the world began to take notice. The dynamic duo absolutely wrecked FIVB and AVP competition, and soon it became all-too-apparent to anyone with eyes that the only way this team could be tested would be in Olympic competition, where the stakes are always at their highest.
Misty May and Kerri Walsh steamrolled the Athens Games in 2004, refusing to lose a single set in all seven matches of play. For their efforts, they were awarded the first gold medal of their illustrious careers. One-upping themselves four years later in Beijing 2008, the Americans defeated the top-seeded Chinese team and made history as the first and only team to repeat as gold medalists in beach volleyball.
While the 2012 Games in London saw Walsh and May-Treanor’s streak of 32 consecutive Olympic sets without a loss come to an end, the pair still captured their third gold medal and cemented their place as the most dominant team to ever serve, set, and spike on sand.
Next: 24. Steve Redgrave