LSU Beach Volleyball, 2020-21 Corbett Award
After closing her career as one of the top collegiate beach volleyball players in history, LSU star Kristen Nuss has been selected as the winner of the Allstate Sugar Bowl’s James J. Corbett Award as the top female amateur athlete in the state of Louisiana.
James J. Corbett Awards
When Nuss arrived at LSU in 2017, the Tigers were a developing team in the fledgling sport of beach volleyball – in their first two seasons, they had posted a 20-19 record. With Nuss leading a talented group of classmates, LSU jumped onto the national scene, qualifying for its first NCAA Championship. And the combination never looked back as Nuss and the Tigers have reached the NCAA Championship, which is only the top eight teams in the country, every year since.
“Kristen will always be tied to our rise as a program,” said LSU head coach Russell Brock. “Our success mirrors her pathway as an athlete. She came in relatively unknown and relatively unskilled with a lot of potential and she walked out of here as somebody that everybody around the country knows as one of the best who’s ever done it. We owe a lot to her, not just because of her performance, but also because of the example that she set and the standard she set for our team.”
Nuss’ career is arguably the best-ever for a beach volleyball player at any school. She recorded 139 victories while pairing with a handful of talented teammates. And the 2021 season was without question her best. The New Orleans native teamed with Taryn Kloth to post a perfect 36-0 record, tying the best record by an undefeated pair on Court 1 ever and the pair was selected as the American Volleyball Coaches Association Beach Pair of the Year (the equivalent of National Players of the Year) as well as being All-Americans. Nuss was named the National Player of the Year by Volleyballmag.
“I went into college and was just a raw athlete,” Nuss said. “I didn’t have much opportunity to play beach volleyball [as it wasn’t as prominent of a sport] so I didn’t have any bad habits. I give all credit to the LSU coaches, especially [assistant coach] Drew Hamilton, who molded me and made me into the player I am today.”
Nuss starred in volleyball and basketball at Mount Carmel Academy and as a senior she was named the Gatorade State Player of the Year. She finished her high school career with five state championships (three in volleyball and two in basketball) and was named the Greater New Orleans Amateur Athlete of the Year for 2015-16.
“I think my biggest accomplishment is the record for career wins,” Nuss said. “And not because it’s my name on the record, but because it’s Louisiana and LSU. Beach volleyball is known as a California and West Coast sport. To bring recognition to my state means so much to me.
“I have great pride for Louisiana,” she continued. “I tell everyone that Louisiana is the best and I do my best to represent my state in the best way possible. To be a Louisiana native and to win the Corbett Award means a lot to me.”
Nuss’ volleyball career has already transitioned to the professional ranks as she’s competing on the Association for Volleyball Professionals (AVP) tour with Kloth. The duo opened their pro careers with a victory in their first tournament – the AVPNext Gold event in New Orleans. Her ultimate athletic goal is to represent the United States in the 2024 Paris Olympics.
The other finalists for female Corbett Award were Angela Charles-Alfred (Xavier University Tennis), Lisa Gunnarsson (LSU Track & Field) and Taylor Ann Wilson (Centenary Gymnastics). Charles-Alfred closed her distinguished career by earning All-America honors for the fourth straight year after helping Xavier reach the NAIA semifinals for the third consecutive time as she finished the season 20-5 in singles and 28-4 in doubles. Gunnarsson, a native of Paris, became the first woman since 2010 to win the pole vault championship at both the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field Championships – when she won gold at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March, it was LSU’s first women’s pole vault champion in history. Wilson made history for Centenary when she won the national championship in individual bars at the 2021 USA Gymnastics Women’s Collegiate National Championship in April – she posted a career-high mark of 9.875 to win the event and become the first Centenary gymnast to win a Division III national title.
Corbett Award Candidates, 2020-21