It’s not like Taryn Kloth had never played beach volleyball.
“I love playing during the summer, mostly with my sister, or my friends. We’d go to the beach,” she said with a smile. “Which is at a lake.”
Lakes that happened to be in South Dakota or Iowa or Minnesota.
And so Monday, when LSU unveiled its new on-campus beach-volleyball stadium, Kloth admitted, “This is my actual sixth day of beach practice.”
Not that anyone doesn’t think she’s going to catch up in a hurry.
The 6-foot-4 outside hitter, who graduated after a tremendous career at Creighton, which included being named a 2018 VolleyballMag.com honorable-mention All-American, is the newest member of the LSU beach team, one that finished sixth in the last AVCA poll of the 2018 season.
“It’s been fantastic,” Kloth said. “It’s been so much fun.”
Kloth, from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, has two seasons of beach eligibility, which ties in perfectly with her goal of getting her MBA at LSU. It’s the same path that former Wisconsin All-American Haleigh Nelson took last year, attending LSU for her one season of beach eligibility before deciding to play professionally indoors. She’s in France now.
“We get contacted by tons of fifth-years,” LSU coach Russell Brock said, referring to indoors players who have finished their careers but have beach eligibility remaining. “Some of them work out and some of them don’t.
“We had great conversations with Taryn initially. She was really serious about her interest in an MBA program. We’ve had a great track record with our fifth-years and going through our MBA program, which is really highly rated.
“So she was a good fit and obviously when we saw who it was and watched her play and saw her tools it made a lot of sense for us.”
Kloth, who got her Creighton degree in finance, consulted with Nelson.
“She didn’t graduate early like I did, so I have two seasons and she only had one,” Kloth said. “So because I have two seasons here I’ll be able to almost completely finish my MBA program. I’ll have one more semester after the beach season next year.
“But Haleigh told me how much fun she had here and how it was a great experience and I’m looking forward to doing the same thing.”
Back up a few months and Kloth wasn’t sure what she wanted to do after graduation. She was visiting with Creighton coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth.
“I was in her office one day was kind of freaking out because I was graduating and I didn’t know what I wanted to do and I didn’t know if I wanted to play beach or possibly play pro, so with her help I got in contact with some of the beach coaches,” Kloth said.
“And once I found Russell and (assistants Cati Leak and Drew Hamilton), I came for a visit and I knew LSU was the place for me. It’s perfect and I was so fortunate to even have them look at me. I mean, look at this program and how well they’re doing. It’s amazing.”
Creighton, a school located in Omaha, Nebraska, and the perennial Big East champion, finished 13th in the final AVCA poll in December. Kloth led the team in kills with 490 (4.15/set), had 28 aces, 46 blocks — 10 solo — and averaged 1.34 digs per set for a team that finished 29-5.
But beach is a bit different.
“You have the same exact skills but the game is so different,” Kloth said. “Thankfully there are a couple of other indoor girls (from the LSU team) who are transitioning into beach as well, so we go and train on a different court and get combined with the team sometimes.”
Kloth said the coaches are understanding of her situation and patiently teaching her the game.
“Getting those individual lessons and knocking out the basic skills that all the other girls already know from growing up and playing beach has been so helpful. You learn so much so quickly and you kind of have to to survive out there.”
This is also Kloth’s first venture to the deep South. During the past week the weather has been unusually cold. But the hot, humid weather will be here soon, crawfish season is just ahead and, for that matter, her first class was actually on Monday.
“From what I can tell so far the people are fantastic,” Kloth said. “Super welcoming, very kind and I’m really excited.”
LSU opens its season March 15 at home in its new stadium.