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2008 In Review:

SPORTS NEWSMAKER OF THE YEAR:A Magical Misty tour

VOLLEYBALL: Former Newport Harbor High star created a stir on the sand, as well as television airwaves during 2008.

December 29, 2008|By Barry Faulkner

Misty May-Treanor long ago picked up the nickname Turtle. But nothing the former Newport Harbor High standout did in 2008, whether it was on the beach volleyball court or in the world of entertainment, had anything to do with tucking into one’s shell.

May-Treanor, 31, now generally considered the best women’s beach volleyball player in the history of the sport, added to that legacy with numerous achievements on the sand. And she also increased her red-carpet appeal away from the court, rising among the ranks of the most recognized athletes on the planet.

Her myriad exploits make her the Daily Pilot’s Sports Newsmaker of the Year.

While May-Treanor ended the year with a pop — the sound she heard when rupturing her left Achilles tendon while practicing during a run on the popular network television series “Dancing with the Stars” – she made a bang in Beijing, China, where she teamed with Kerri Walsh to earn the duo’s second straight Olympic gold medal.

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May-Treanor and Walsh also won 12 tournaments during the Assn. of Volleyball Professionals domestic tour and they claimed four Federation Internationale de Volleyball tournament wins, despite missing some events due to Walsh’s shoulder injury.

A technicality allowing the host country to claim the top seed if it had a team ranked in the top six in the world, was about the only challenge to the supremacy of May-Treanor and Walsh, who swept all seven of their matches, including a 21-18, 21-18, final triumph over the host country’s Wang Jie and Tian Jia.

The Olympic triumph was featured in NBC’s prime-time coverage and among those who witnessed the dominant play of the smiling, hugging, fist-pumping Americans in person during the tournament were President George W. Bush, as well as fellow American Olympic heroes Michael Phelps and Kobe Bryant.

By capturing the gold, the prolific pair extended their international winning streak to 69 matches and 10 event titles and May-Treanor was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.

May-Treanor later was recognized as the FIVB’s Co-Most Outstanding Player, while also pocketing Best Defensive Player and Best Offensive Player laurels. She and Walsh shared the international tour’s sportsmanship award.

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