Sunday, 14 April 2024

International Volleyball

Kristen Nuss, Taryn Kloth set out to “rewrite the script.” They’ve done just that.

Kristen Nuss-Taryn Kloth

TKN at USA Volleyball media day

HERMOSA BEACH, California — They sat in silence for a moment. A warm and welcome silence that is heavy for all of the proper reasons. A silence we should all most want to feel one day, though only the truly exceptional of us shall ever know.

It was an otherwise sleepy, drizzly Friday in January, a day no one would have marked down as one of any significance on the beach volleyball calendar. Kristen Nuss, Taryn Kloth, and their coach, Drew Hamilton, piled into their Nissan Kicks rental following a meeting at the USA Volleyball offices in Torrance, and they all simply sat for a beat, allowing the gravity of the last hour of conversation to settle in.

They had met with USA Volleyball Director Sean Scott and various other members of the staff. Scott gave them a brief but detailed rundown of this summer’s Paris Olympic Games: here are how many athletes will be attending, that is where the village is located, here are the mockups of the beach volleyball staging, these are your options for transportation. And then he delivered the final bit of news: Their last finish of the season, a gold medal at the Beach Pro Tour Finals, one in which they didn’t even earn any Olympic qualification points, counted as one of the 12 requisite events a team must play in order to qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games.

Kristen Nuss and Taryn Kloth were going to the Olympics.

They had already known it, from a logical perspective. The point gap between them and Betsi Flint and Julia Scoles, the third-ranked American team, was almost a mathematical impossibility to be overcome. But until Scott informed Nuss and Kloth that they didn’t even need to play a single event this season prior to this summer’s Games, that they had already punched their ticket, they hadn’t yet acknowledged it in their hearts.

So they sat in that little Kicks, the moment growing heavy and warm as a Louisiana summer day.

“We legit can say we qualified?” Nuss asked no one in particular. “What just happened? Did it just get real, real?’ It got real, real.”

It’s real, real: Kristen Nuss and Taryn Kloth, perhaps the most unlikely team in the sport of beach volleyball, a 5-foot-6 dynamo as ferocious as she is diminutive, and a 6-foot-4 26-year-old from a state far more known for its snow and distinctive lack of beaches, are going to the Olympic Games.

And they’ll be doing so as a favorite to medal.

“I’m from Louisiana, I’m small, and I’m going to beat…

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