To say that Kristen Nuss and Taryn Kloth have taken the pro beach volleyball world by storm would now be an understatement.
The “LSU girls,” as they’re known by many of their peers on the AVP Tour, did it again, this time winning Sunday’s final of the Volleyball World Kusadasi, Turkey, Challenge, beating Australian Olympic silver medalists Mariafe Artacho and Taliqua Clancy 21-12, 17-21, 17-15.
“Wowza! That’s all I keep saying. I have no other words. We set out some goals at the beginning of the season and had no idea it would all happen this fast,” said Nuss, who next weekend gets to play in her hometown in AVP New Orleans.
In 2021, fresh out of LSU, Nuss and Kloth won the AVP season opener in Atlanta. But this year? The pair got a late bid to the Volleyball World tournament in Coolangatta, Australia, in April and won it. Then earlier this month they won the season-opening AVP Austin.
We were hoping we could just get into a (Volleyball World) tournament in November. I think that is what has helped us. Every tournament thus far we have just been so thankful that we were even able to get in,” Nuss continued. “All we wanted was a chance and we’ve gotten that and just kind of run with it. When you rep those three letters (USA) you just wear it with pride and want to do your absolute best!
“So freaking happy. On cloud 9 right now. I know we are going to feel it in the morning though.”
This win, however, does far more than simply send them home with a gold medal, and $10,000 in cash: The win all but guarantees Nuss and Kloth a berth into the upcoming World Championships in Rome, Italy.
“The magnitude for them to get into that tournament, at this point in their journey — I’m just letting this run out,” said their coach, Drew Hamilton.
Nuss played her entire college career for LSU beach. Kloth joined the team after an All-American indoors career at Creighton. They made a great pair for the Tigers in 2021 and have continued their success as pros.
“Every single morning, afternoon and night we would look at each other and say ‘We’re in Turkey, playing beach volleyball and we get to do it together.’ We were very grateful and excited to just be here and competing,” Kloth said. “This was a wild trip to say the least!”
No doubt, considering they started in the qualifier and opened with a sweep of Canadians Darby Dunn and Katharine Wuttennee and then moved into pool play after beating Ukrainians Inn Makhno and Iryna Mkhno.
In pool play, Nuss and Kloth, seeded 20th, swept fifth-seeded Germans Karla Borger and Julia Sude — who won last year’s World Tour Finals, in Cagliari, Italy — and lost a tough one to eighth-seeded Germans Sandra Ittlinger and Isabel Schneider 24-22, 21-19.
That got them into the winners bracket and they bounced back with a 21-17, 21-15 victory over top-seeded Brazilians Thamela Coradelli and Elize Maia before they ousted yet another German pair, fourth-seeded Svenja Muller and Cinja Tillman 21-16 21-14.
In the semifinals, they knocked out fellow Americans seventh-seeded Terese Cannon and Olympian Sarah Sponcil 21-18, 21-18. In the other semifinal, Artacho and Clancy beat Ittinger and Schneider 25-23, 21-18.
Cannon and Sponcil won the bronze-medal match 21-11, 17-21, 15-12.
Kloth and Nuss spilt $10,000, while Cannon and Sponcil took home $7,000.
Americans Megan Kraft and Emily Stockman tied for fifth and Corinne Quiggle and Sarah Schermerhorn tied for ninth. Neither Kim Hildreth and Jade Race nor Tambre Nobles and Melissa Powell made it out of the qualifier.
On the men’s side, Swedes David Ahman and Jonatan Hellvig beat Australians Paul Burnett and Christopher McHugh for the gold medal.
PLEASE JOIN THE TEAM!
Keep free volleyball journalism free by becoming a VolleyballMag.com Sustaining Member: https://volleyballmag.com/sustaining-membership/
Or make a contribution through Venmo @VolleyballMag