40 greatest female athletes: Flo Hyman

When Flo Hyman died in 1986, at the age of 31, during a match for her Japanese professional club, she instantly became a legend. AP Photo

ESPN is marking the 40th anniversary of Title IX by unveiling the top 40 female athletes of the past 40 years.

Legend has it that Flo Hyman could spike the ball 110 mph. That she hit the ball so hard that it often had funky spin, making it appear to rise for an opponent ready to dig low. That at the same time, she was fiendishly accurate. "She could drill some angles you just couldn't even imagine," longtime U.S. teammate Laurel Iversen recalls.

High school volleyball exploded during Hyman's star turn, and beach volleyball blossomed not long after her tragic death. She is No. 34 in ESPN's countdown.

Read the complete story from espnW here.

Earlier in this series:

No. 40: Diver Fu Mingxia

No. 39: Jockey Julie Krone

No. 38: Gymnast Mary Lou Retton

No. 37: Hockey player Cammi Granato

No. 36: Soccer player Kristine Lilly

No. 35: Basketball player Diana Taurasi