BATON ROUGE, LA – LSU’s Kristen Nuss and Taryn Kloth were named Volleyballmag’s College Beach Pair of the Year, headlining its All-America team, as the duo earned their second national pair of the year honor having an undefeated spring. Nuss was also named the National Player of the Year by Volleyballmag.
Nuss and Kloth dominated the voting. Four panelists selected Nuss for Player of the Year, while the other two selected Kloth. Kloth and Nuss were named the AVCA Pair of the Year earlier this month and have announced plans to pursue a professional beach volleyball career together.
Volleyballmag’s All-America voters were coaches Derek Olson (Cal), Rita Buck-Crockett (FIU), Kristina Hernandez (Stetson); and media members Holly McPeak (Pac-12 and ESPN), Placek (CollegeBVB.com), and Rob Espero (VolleyballMag.com and the Viral Volley Podcast).
“Kristen Nuss is a special athlete,” McPeak said a three-time beach Olympian. “She did not grow up playing the sport but learned it quickly. The way she reads the game, and her quick first step set her apart. I love that she is undersized but plays big and jumps really well.
“She is an inspiration to all the smaller players and as well as the bigger ones! I can’t wait to see what she does at the pro level.”
Kloth and Nuss went 36-0 at No. 1. Nuss, a product of New Orleans, is the winningest player in college beach volleyball history with 139 total career victories. She won her last 48 matches for LSU.
Kloth, who is from Sioux Falls, South Dakota and played four years indoors for Creighton before transferring to Baton Rouge, incredibly never lost a beach match in college. Kloth went 14-0 on LSU’s Court 4 in 2020 before teaming with Nuss this season after they played together last summer.
“Nuss is the engine of the team because she can side out, but I feel Kloth is just in a different level of a college beach player physically,” FIU’s Buck-Crockett said.
“Kloth is going to terminate most of the time, and block most of the offensive plays from the other team. What she doesn’t block, Nuss defends and most of the time will terminate. They are a very strong team.”
Cal coach Olson said they have no notable weaknesses.
“I think their record speaks for itself … they are the real deal. They have size at the net and speed behind it,” Olson said. “Offensively it is like picking your poison. Nuss’ vision is the best I’ve seen at this level.”
Kloth and Nuss went 36-0 in 2021 and dropped just four sets throughout the entire season, proving to be too much to handle for anybody that stepped in the sand across from them. The only other college beach pair to ever go 36-0 on Court 1 is USC’s Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes who did it in 2016.
Twenty of their wins came against pairs on the top court from AVCA Top-20 teams. Of those 20 wins, 14 came against teams ranked inside the Top-10.
During the Tigers’ trip to California in early April, Kloth and Nuss solidified themselves as the clear top pair in the country, going 4-0 against UCLA and USC’s No. 1 duos.
LSU had two matches against UCLA on Saturday where Kloth and Nuss faced the defending Pac 12 Pair of the Week of Lexy Denaburg and Savy Simmo, an All-American. In the first match against the Bruins, Kloth and Nuss faced their most difficult challenge of the season. They cruised through the first set, 21-14, but Denaburg and Simmo were able to force a third set when they took a tight second set, 23-21.
In the third set, Denaburg and Simo had Kloth and Nuss on the ropes. The LSU duo faced 12 match-point serves, but stayed firm and put on a masterclass in side-outs before ultimately winning the set and the dual, 27-25.
In the second match against Denaburg and Simmo, Kloth and Nuss won in straight sets.
The following day, Kloth and Nuss had two more matches against another top pair from USC that featured Tina Graudina, a qualified Tokyo Olyimpian in her home country of Latvia, and Sammy Slater, an All-American. Once again the first match of the day went to three sets, but Kloth and Nuss never wavered as the overall match against the Trojans was tied at two courts. Kloth and Nuss clinched the match for LSU in the third set on Court 1, propelling LSU to a victory over the team that ultimately won the National Championship.
Just like the day before against UCLA, after their first match went to three sets Kloth and Nuss took care of business in two sets in the second match vs. USC, capping off their perfect weekend in Los Angeles.
At the NCAA Championship, Kloth and Nuss thrived against the top competition and went 4-0 to finish their perfect season.
Their toughest match of the tournament was in an elimination match against Florida State, a team that LSU was 0-4 against throughout the season prior to their meeting in Gulf Shores. In the first set, Kloth and Nuss had their worst set of the season as they fell, 21-13.
Nuss called it a wake-up call for the pair later on and in the second set, they came out guns-a-blazing to force a third set, 21-14.
With LSU leading FSU 2-1 in the overall match and Court 3 on its way to a third set as well, Kloth and Nuss had the opportunity to keep the Tigers’ season alive with their first win over the Seminoles all season to send them home.
Kloth and Nuss stayed calm, cool and collected – just as they always did – and took the third set, 15-13, securing the victory for LSU.
The nation’s best pair finished their perfect season with their third win of the season over UCLA’s Denaburg and Simmo. LSU dropped the overall match to UCLA though, ending the Tigers’ season.
VolleyballMag.com First Team
2 — Tina Graudina and Megan Kraft, USC
3 — Savvy Sima and Lexy Denaburg, UCLA
4 — Torrey Van Winden and Keara Rutz, Florida State
5 — Reka Orsi Toth and Selina Marolf, LMU
1 — Daniela Alvarez/Tania Mateeva, TCU
2 — Julia Scoles and Sammy Slater, USC
3 — Alaina Chacon and Maddie Anderson, Florida State
4 — Erica Brok and Mackenzie Morris, FAU
5 — Emily Sonny and Macy Gordon, Cal Poly
1 — Federica Frasca and Roberta Ribiero, FIU
2 — Sunny Villapando and Xolani Hodel, Stanford
3 — Skylar Allen and Katie Smith, South Carolina
4 — Allanis Navas and Paula Hoffman, Grand Canyon
5 — Rileigh Powers and Jaden Whitmarsh, UCLA
Mima Mirkovic and Carolina Schafer (Cal), Carly Skjodt and Melanie Paul (Pepperdine), Lindsey Sparks and Abby Van Winkle (UCLA), Abbie Hughes and Paige Kalkhoff (FIU), Audrey Nourse and Nicole Nourse (USC), Megan Muret and Jacqueline Quade (UCLA), Olivia Blackburn and Hailey Brockett (TCU), Haley Hallgren and Hailey Harward (USC), Tia Miric and Mariah Whalen (Cal Poly), Jordan Polo and Ainsley Radell (Cal)
(Press release provided by LSU Athletics.)