International Volleyball

Kristen Nuss, Taryn Kloth shake off slump with silver in Brazil

Taryn Kloth-Kristen Nuss-Brasilia Elite16

On the surface, it was easy to wonder (and many did): What was going on with Kristen Nuss and Taryn Kloth?

The No. 2 team in the world had supposedly gone through whatever a sophomore slump might look like for them, and theirs resembled nothing of the sort. A brilliant rookie season paved the way for a second year on the Beach Pro Tour in which they won seven medals, the most in a single season since April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings. They took bronze at the World Championships, gold at the Beach Pro Tour Finals. They clinched a spot in the Paris Olympic Games. They were nominated for Team of the Year, in a three-team discussion with Ana Patricia Silva and Duda Lisboa of Brazil and World Champs Kelly Cheng and Sara Hughes as the best team on the planet.

And then they sort of… flatlined.

Back-to-back ninths in Doha and Tepic to start the season was, at first glimpse, startling. They’d finished worse than fifth only once in the entire 2023 season, and in two events in 2024, they’d stacked up two of them. Of the eight matches they’d played, they won just two.

What was happening?

On further inspection, nothing, really.

Nuss was actually siding out better in 2024 than she did in 2023, putting away 59 percent of her attempts in serve receive, up four percent. Kloth was siding out at 55 percent, just a one-percent dip from 2024, certainly not a sizable enough dip to be a cause for alarm. If they continued playing the way they were, it was, it seemed, only a matter of time until the wins began piling up.

In Brazil for this week’s Brasilia Elite16, they did.

Nuss and Kloth returned to form, winning five straight matches en route to the finals, where they’d meet world No. 1 Ana Patricia and Duda. They avenged a loss in Tepic to Germans Laura Ludwig and Louisa Lippmann and righted another against Carol and Barbara. Twice, they fended off one of the fastest-rising teams in the world in Switzerland’s Zoe Verge-Depre and Esmee Bobner, who won bronze, their first Elite16 medal as a team.

The only duo who managed to get the better of Nuss and Kloth were those brilliant Brazilians, Ana Patricia and Duda. In the ninth meeting between the two teams, and the fourth in a gold medal match, again it went the way of Brazil. A 21-17, 21-14 victory over Nuss and Kloth marked the first medal of the season for both teams, who combined for 16 of them in 2023.

“Nothing wrong with silver,” they wrote on social media.

Indeed, nothing wrong at all.

Just as nothing has been…

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