Volleyball team setting up for fall success

Adam Tumino, Editor-in-Chief

Over the past year, the Eastern volleyball has dealt with a disappointing 2019 season, a head coaching change and a global pandemic.

Sara Thomas assumed the role of head coach back in late December, less than three months before COVID-19 caused Eastern’s campus to shut down for the rest of the Spring semester.

Thomas said that she is happy that the team is now back on campus, and although the fall season was postponed until the spring, teams are allowed to begin team activities and practice on Aug. 31.

“We’re going to be able to get into the weight room starting next week,” Thomas said. “Then we’ll evaluate, see where everybody is, and that will determine when we are able to start practice.”

Teams will be limited to eight hours of practice and training a week, Thomas said, which will be split between conditioning and regular practice.

But the last five months have presented challenges for each team on campus. In the spring, Thomas said that the volleyball team channeled their energy into their grades while stuck at home.

“We had a very strict structure for our girls, even though they were at home,” she said.

The structure included weekly planners that were submitted, team study hall times and weekly academic meetings. As a result, the team posted a GPA of 3.62 and earned an AVCA Team Academic Award, which is given each year to college volleyball teams that maintain a GPA of 3.30 or higher for an entire academic year.

“The fact that we did that through COVID, that was a huge accomplishment to the players,” Thomas said.

In addition to interrupting activities for the team that was already in place at Eastern, COVID-19 has also forced many college teams to alter their recruitment processes and using more virtual options.

“For me, recruiting is very relationship-driven. It’s not just based on skills,” Thomas said. “We’re building a culture of genuinely good people. People that will come in a work hard in the classroom and on the floor.”

She also said that the switch to virtual recruiting has been beneficial as it has allowed for more relationship building with recruits.

“What we’ve been able to do is really get to know our recruits on a deeper level,” Thomas said. “We’re in a dead period (for recruiting). We can’t go out and watch. They can’t come on campus. So it’s been virtual campus tours. It’s been lots of facetimes, lots of texting, lots of communication and just really getting to know them on a deeper level.”


Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]