This unlikely LSU Beach Volleyball duo will make their Olympic debut this summer

Kristen Nuss was sitting at home like the rest of the world during the COVID-19 lockdown when she saw her phone light up.

On the other end was her LSU Beach Volleyball teammate Taryn Kloth, hunkered down 1,200 miles away in her hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

The No. 1-ranked Tigers’ dominant 2020 season had just been bitterly cut short by the pandemic.

Kloth was itching to start training again. She asked Nuss if she wanted to join.

“Heck yeah,” the New Orleans native recalls replying.


That summer marked the duo’s first time playing as a pair, entering a handful of tournaments in and around Louisiana. Fast forward four summers, and the 26-year-olds will team up to compete for Team USA in the 2024 Olympics. Their July matches will be set in the temporary Eiffel Tower Stadium, the iconic structure gleaming in the background.

“At the beginning, we were just having a blast on the court, and I don’t think at the time we necessarily thought it would be what it is today,” Nuss tells 225.

The journey feels especially wild for Kloth, a Creighton University transfer who formerly focused strictly on indoor volleyball, and nearly stopped playing beach altogether before committing to a “super senior” season at LSU.

“I don’t know how to describe it, (but) I had this drive that I could not not keep playing beach volleyball,” Kloth recalls.


Still, it’s not exactly a surprise today that the duo is heading to Paris. Nuss and Kloth are ranked No. 2 in the world by the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball, and they’re known as one of the most dynamic teams to watch in the sport—their 10-inch height difference adding to the fun.

And while Nuss and Kloth have fully made their mark on the international stage, they still train in Baton Rouge at Mango’s Beach Volleyball with former LSU volunteer coach Drew Hamilton. They describe the community at the facility off South Sherwood Forest Boulevard as a “family.”

“I know that we have so much support. I truly feel like I am an adopted Louisianian,” Kloth says.

Still, the former Tigers are looking forward to proudly donning three new letters across their chests this summer: USA.

“(We) put on those three letters with a lot of pride,” Nuss says. “I’ve watched the Olympics ever since I could remember—especially the Summer Olympics. It is absolutely a dream come true.”

This article was originally published in the June 2024 issue of 225 Magazine.