LSU’s Kloth and Nuss Officially Named to USA Beach Volleyball Olympic Team

Taryn Kloth and Kristen Nuss
Taryn Kloth and Kristen Nuss headed to Paris Olympics

Taryn Kloth and Kristen Nuss have been officially selected to compete for Team USA in Paris this summer, becoming the first two LSU Beach Volleyball alums to qualify for the Olympics.

Beach volleyball at the 2024 Olympic Games will be held at Eiffel Tower Stadium, a temporary outdoor arena at the base of the Eiffel Tower. Women’s Olympic beach volleyball competition kicks off July 27 and runs through August 9. A Team USA Pair has medaled in five consecutive Olympics, including four gold medals.

“We could not be more proud of Taryn and Kristen,” LSU Beach Volleyball Coach Russell Brock said. “There’s been beach volleyball in the Olympics for a while, but there have been very few players who have played at beach program who now are not only representing their country, but those programs. To be part of such a small development in our sport is an honor. It’s so cool to know that they’re going to be some of the very few players who played at the NCAA level who had success for a beach program and now are representing their country in the Olympics.

“To know that it’s such an elite group and to know it’s just two kids who started out playing here and learning the sport with us; it couldn’t be more humbling and exciting to know that they’re representing not only their country, but this state, the families around here and this university. We couldn’t be more grateful, more excited and more humble by that reality.”

The unlikely beach duo of the 5-6 Nuss from New Orleans, Louisiana and the 6-4 Kloth from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, has quickly risen to ranked among the top beach pairs in the world. Team TKN as they go by is currently ranked No. 2 in the world in the FIVB rankings and are the top ranked American duo. Nuss is the only player who stands at 5-6 or shorter to compete on one of the top 40 pairs in the world. She will be the shortest U.S. Olympic beach volleyball player since 5-6 Barbra Fontana in 1996, the year beach volleyball made its Olympic debut.

“This is absolutely a dream come true,” Nuss said. “There’s no other way to say it. I have been dreaming about being an Olympian ever since I knew what the Olympics were. I’m just waiting for someone to pinch me. Getting to represent the United States is something we won’t take lightly. We want everyone that tunes in to be proud of the effort and fight and sportsmanship that they see whenever they watch. None of this would be happening if it was not for LSU. This is where Taryn and I met, and this is where Taryn and I built and solidified this partnership. LSU will always hold a very, very special place in my heart.”

“To qualify for the Olympics, the pinnacle of athletic competition is truly surreal,” Kloth added. “It hits me when I think back to watching and adoring those athletes when I was a little girl! Wearing USA on our jersey, that is such an honor! The combination of the flag, red/white/blue, and the national anthem leaves me speechless and with a million goosebumps! As soon as I stepped foot in Louisiana for the first time in 2018, I knew I had to be here. I couldn’t explain why, or how, I just knew that I had to be a Tiger. Luckily, my gut instinct led me to this moment. LSU took a risk on me and brought me into the LSU family, and I am forever grateful!

Nuss grew up a LSU fan in New Orleans and quickly blossomed into an elite athlete who proved she had the capability to play multiple sports from basketball to soccer to volleyball at a high level.  As she found her passion for beach volleyball, LSU was launching its beach volleyball program. She began play at LSU as a freshman in 2017 and began playing with fellow freshman Claire Coppola. With Coppola and Nuss having great success on Court 1, LSU reached the NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship Tournament for the first time in their freshmen year. Coppola and Nuss continued to play together through the shortened 2020 season when LSU finished the year ranked No. 1. Coppola and Nuss won over 100 matches together as a duo, the third college beach volleyball ever to accomplish that feat.

Kloth came to LSU after a successful indoor career at Creighton where she earned numerous All-America honors. She came to Baton Rouge as a skilled and athletically gifted indoor player who did not have much experience playing in the sand. In her first season in the sand at LSU, Kloth played with four partners and won 18 matches. During the 2020 season, she played solely with Kelli Greene-Agnew on Court 4. The duo was a perfect 13-0 throughout the season and never dropped a set and Kloth continued to develop quickly in the sand.

As the world slowed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and LSU’s national championship dreams for 2020 came to an end, seniors Kloth and Nuss were both allowed one more year in the sand by the NCAA. As they both decided to return to LSU for their Covid Season, the duo began training together in the offseason. Throughout the late summer and into winter of 2020, Kloth and Nuss won three AVPNext events, showing how dominant they could be as a pair in the sand, not just at LSU, but as future professionals too.

Playing their final season at LSU together in 2021, Kloth and Nuss solidified themselves as the top college beach pair in the nation. They were a perfect 36-0 on Court 1, winning in dominant fashion on a consistent basis. After the perfect season, Nuss had accumalted 139 victories to become the winningest college beach volleyball player of all-time.

Kloth and Nuss play well off each other’s strengths. Although Nuss is undersized, her instincts and quickness, coupled with her supreme athleticism, allow her to cover every inch of the court. Kloth’s size as a blocker allows her to make plays at the net defensively and when she is not blocking shots, she alters opponents’ shots at the net which gives Nuss the ability to allow her defensive prowess show. Offensively, they both have a multitude of shots to use at the net and earn points.

Following the collegiate season, Kloth and Nuss quickly went to work on their professional careers, launching their TKN team. They went on to enjoy a successful rookie season on the AVP Tour. Kloth and Nuss made their professional presence immediately known, winning their first AVP Gold Series event at the 2021 Atlanta Open after playing their way into the main draw out of the qualifying tournament. Kloth and Nuss were named AVP Co-Rookies of the Year in 2021 and Nuss was named the AVP Defender of the Year. They won three more AVP events in 2022, the only duo on tour to win multiple events through the year.

Eyeing the 2024 Olympic games in London, many beach volleyball experts felt that Kloth and Nuss needed to split up to start earning points towards qualifying for the games. Together, Kloth and Nuss, have rewritten the professional beach volleyball script. Neither Kloth nor Nuss had any ranking points which are needed to qualify for certain international tournaments, including the Olympics. Two weeks prior to a tournament in Coolangatta, Australia Kloth and Nuss, who were on the tournament’s reserve list, found themselves in the last slot of qualifiers. Just like in their AVP Gold debut in Atlanta, TKN had to play through the qualifying tournament to earn a spot in the main draw. Like in Atlanta, Kloth and Nuss won seven straight matches. That first international victory helped them to start earning more points and more opportunities to accumulate points.

Two weeks later they won again on the international stage, this time knocking off 2021 Olympic Silver Medalists Mariafe Artacho and Taliqua Clancy in the Kusadasi, Turkey finals. As they began to play more internationally, Kloth and Nuss began to earn points to qualify for the 2024 Olympics. In Olympic qualifying events throughout 2023, TKN finished in the top-5 in 10 events, medaled in seven and won three events, including the 2023 Beach Pro Tour Finals. The seven podium finishes marked the most for an American team since Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross in 2016. At the start of this year, the pair discovered they had mathematically clinched their spot in the 2024 Olympic Games and punched their ticket to Paris.

Like Kloth and Nuss, the second American beach pair to qualify for the Olympics were teammates and partners in college. Kelly Cheng and Sara Hugh played multiple seasons together as partners at USC and, like Kloth and Nuss, had a perfect 36-0 season on Court 1 in 2016.

author avatar
Tiger Rag News Services

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


one × = seven