Sara Thomas says it means a lot to lead the beach volleyball program

Kate Stevens, Assistant Sports Editor

Former head coach of the beach volleyball team Manolo Concepcion stepped down from the position in early February after taking an assistant coaching position with Washington University in Seattle, Wash.

Concepcion helped bring the D1 beach volleyball program to EIU after being hired in 2020. He led the team for its first season as well as assisting the indoor volleyball team for two years.

After his resignation from EIU, assistant coach and head coach of indoor volleyball Sara Thomas was named head coach of the beach volleyball team.

Sara Thomas, the volleyball coach, poses for a picture. (Ashanti Thomas)

Thomas said she is happy for Concepcion being named the assistant at a PAC-12 organization.

“I couldn’t have been more excited for him going to Washington and the Pac-12 conference,” Thomas said. “It’s a huge opportunity that I could not have been more excited for him”

She also said transitioning from assistant to head coach was simple.

“I was very excited about the opportunity and with it being such a good program, Manolo had everything already set up,” Thomas said. “So it was a really easy transition. Just to continue to lead another EIU women’s sport meant a lot.”

She said she is excited to be able to train with the team and continue to build relationships with them in the beach volleyball season.

“Just continuing to get to train with our girls, more opportunities for them,” Thomas said. “That’s what it’s all about. It’s just connecting and continuing to build our relationships as players and coaches all together. So during this time that’s what I love the most and getting to play beach volleyball is just a plus.”

Thomas was hired as the indoor volleyball coach in December 2019. She has led the indoor team to two consecutive OVC Volleyball tournaments and in 2022 led the team to its best record since 2015.

The team will kick off the season at home as they host Missouri Baptist at Sister City Park at 1 p.m. in Charleston, Ill.


Kate Stevens can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]