November 22, 2019 3:37:55 PM
CALEDONIA -- The outfit was fine.
Caledonia libero Maddy Suggs convinced setter Camryn Johnson of it: There was no need to worry about what Johnson had picked out for Friday morning's even. It would do.
"She took all the stress away from me," Johnson said. "That was really nice."
It was just another example of the relationship the two Caledonia seniors have -- a connection that started when the two first shared a court for the Level Elite club volleyball team in fifth grade.
"I'm just really grateful to have her in my life," Johnson said. "Not even in a volleyball sense: just anything, really."
Friday, she and Suggs signed their letters of intent to play volleyball at the Mississippi University for Women. With their parents watching proudly over their shoulders, the two put pen to paper simultaneously, showing the bond they built over seven years sharing a volleyball court.
"I'm not ready to stop playing with her," Johnson said.
Johnson said she was sure of her collegiate choice since May, when MUW coach Roxanne Hernandez, who coached Johnson with Level Elite, asked her to join. Suggs, though, took a little longer.
In October, Suggs went on another visit to the school, talking to the Owls coaches about scheduling and visiting the biology department. A couple weeks later, she committed to play volleyball and softball at the school.
"It felt like a homey feel to me, and that's what I think I need for my first years of college," Suggs said.
She and Johnson plan to live together in college, though the two have yet to decide if they'll choose a dorm or an apartment. With the close relationship a setter and libero tend to have, Johnson said, that proximity is nothing new. The challenges of college volleyball, however, will be.
"I think it's gonna grow us in our volleyball careers and individually and us together and how we're gonna work together," Johnson said. "She's my libero, so I have to rely on her so much more than maybe my hitters."
The two can't wait to get back on the court together after a dream senior season ended in the state semifinals, the best finish in school history.
"This season really kind of put Caledonia volleyball on the map," Confederates coach Samantha Brooks said.
Brooks watched her daughter, senior outside hitter Tori Brooks, sign to Itawamba Community College on Nov. 7, and Tori joined her teammates in celebration Friday. The 'Feds coach said while three of her seniors signed, others had opportunities to play but chose to focus on school.
"Our team makes us look good," Johnson said. "I'm very grateful to be part of the three."
With 31 players in the Level Elite program from sixth to 12th grade, Caledonia is set up well for success in the future, coach Brooks said. But she's sad to see Johnson and Suggs go.
"There's a part of me that wants to have them another year," she said. "But it's also neat to see what they've achieved, and they're so deserving of it."
Theo DeRosa reports on high school sports and Mississippi State softball for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @Theo_DeRosa.
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