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The American Beach Volleyball Duo to Watch at the Olympics

by WoV

If you’re a beach volleyball fan, you’ve likely heard of Kristen Nuss and Taryn Kloth. If not, you will soon, probably at the upcoming Summer Olympics in Paris. They are not only talented but will bring a unique partnership to Paris that could make them stand out. Nuss is from Louisiana and Kloth is from South Dakota, so they aren’t the typical beach volleyball duo. Yet, they could be about to capture the attention of the world at the Olympics with their performance and their unique story.

Nuss and Kloth, both 26, began their partnership at LSU in 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Nuss, a Louisiana native, and Kloth, a graduate transfer from Creighton, teamed up at the start of the 2021 season, finishing with a perfect 36-0 record. As professionals, they’ve continued to claim tournament victories, including the 2023 World Tour finals in Doha, Qatar, which is the victory that secured their spot at the 2024 Olympics.

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The pair of Nuss and Kloth is particularly unique because of the tandem of one tall player and one short player. Nuss will be the shortest U.S. beach volleyball Olympian since Barbra Fontana in 1996. She excels in the sand with a blend of speed, cleverness, and tenacity. Her playing style has been compared to Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux, who excelled without high velocity by changing speeds and using precise placement.

Nuss says that a lot of the credit for her success with Kloth belongs to LSU coach Drew Hamilton. He was the one who put the pair together and encouraged them to focus on placing their shots with accuracy and playing scrappy defense when the opposing team is on the attack.

Kloth, meanwhile, was an All-American at Creighton. But that was in indoor volleyball. She had to translate those skills to the sand. In the past, Kloth has spoken about the differences between indoor volleyball and beach volleyball, mentioning there are more outside elements at play in the sand. She says it took about a year for her to make the full adjustment.

The pairing of Nuss and Kloth is also interesting because they didn’t initially play together at LSU. However, they managed to convince Hamilton to pair them together. The unique tandem clicked immediately, becoming friends both on and off the court. That helped both of them become All-Americans in their final season with the Tigers.

The connection Nuss and Kloth made at LSU was so profound that they decided to stay there to train rather than moving to Southern California, which is the capital of beach volleyball in the U.S. With the Olympics coming quickly, the pair is prepping at a Baton Rouge beach volleyball facility. By staying in Louisiana, the women have a trusted support system that will give them the encouragement they need heading into the Olympics.

Nuss and Kloth believe that staying away from the hub of beach volleyball is important for them. It will allow them to focus on their game, build their chemistry, and minimize any potential weaknesses heading into the Olympics.

Minimizing their weaknesses figures to be the key to Nuss and Kloth finding success at the Olympics. It’s why this surprising pairing has a chance to win a medal in Paris.

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