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Volleyball: North Forsyth's Maddie Bryant commits to Georgia Southern
North Forsyth's Maddie Bryant attempts a hit during a match against Forsyth Central on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016. - photo by Micah Green

Maddie Bryant is a deliberate decision-maker, and that meant the North Forsyth rising senior volleyball player watched as teammates on her club team made swift verbal commitments to play in college. Bryant, meanwhile, sifted through her options, parsing the pros and cons in pursuit of the right feeling.

It turned out that feeling came much quicker than she expected.

Contacted by Georgia Southern University coaches three weeks ago, Bryant verbally committed to the Eagles on a visit to the Statesboro campus on Wednesday.

After touring the campus, meeting with the coaching staff, team and the university’s education director (her intended major), Bryant felt everything she needed to know Georgia Southern was the right place.

“When I was finished I knew that was the right fit for me,” Bryant said.

Bryant can’t officially sign a letter of intent until the first 2017-18 signing period in November, but she would join an Eagles program starting to gain some traction after joining the Sun Belt Conference in 2014. Georgia Southern was 15-18 overall and 7-9 in the Sun Belt last season in head coach Dustin Wood’s fourth season, their best mark since going 28-6 overall and 13-3 in the Southern Conference in 2013, Wood’s debut.

And the Eagles would get one of the top hitters in the state in Bryant, who had 389 kills, 198 digs and 88 blocks last season to help North win their first state playoff match since 2001.

Bryant had contacted Georgia Southern’s coaches throughout last season to no avail – until three weeks ago. Bryant got an email from an assistant coach; the Eagles wanted her to visit.

“It was just kind of a fast-moving kind of thing,” Bryant said. “We weren’t really expecting an email from them telling me to come down and visit at some point. We were like, OK, well, we need to figure out what day is good because that would be an experience to go visit. One thing led to another.”

Despite Bryant’s thoroughness, it didn’t take long for her to accept Georgia Southern’s scholarship offer Wednesday.

“It’s not too, too far from home. It’s far enough to get out of Forsyth County, but it’s not too far. And just everything they were about,” Bryant said. “The coaches were amazing. They were so friendly. They definitely reassured my parents about my safety and that I would definitely get the college experience but not too, too much fun, but just enough. And the players I got to meet were super nice, and the campus is beautiful.”

Turns out Georgia Southern was worth the wait.

“It was definitely more stressful, but I was fine with it just waiting for the right fit for me,” Bryant said. “I knew it wasn’t going to be the first college. I knew it was going to have to be a couple. I knew once I got on the campus and I knew it would be the right fit for me – I knew I would have that feeling. I just had to be patient throughout the process.