By LARRY VAUGHT
Madison Lilley openly talked about winning a national volleyball championship at Kentucky when she arrived on campus as a freshman. However, she was actually talking about it even before then according to her father, Brent Lilley.
“Her club coach knew Madison could have gone to other programs who had won multiple championships but she knew in her heart for a long time she was going to Kentucky,” Brent Lilley said. “She told her club coach when she was 15 she was going there and winning a national championship.
“I had not thought back to that until her club coach texted us (after UK won the national championship). Winning a national title was definitely something she had thought about. It may not have been something she knew she could do but she planned it and it worked out. It was so special for her and those seniors to end their careers that way.”
Lilley and UK beat Texas in four sets Saturday night to not only win UK’s first volleyball national championship but also the first volleyball national title for the SEC. Lilley was also named the Final Four’s most outstanding player three days after being named the national player of the year.
“You could not have scripted the last few weeks any better,” Brent Lilley said. “It was really a storybook ending for her that she had been working for a long time. She was wearing Kentucky blue long before she got to campus.”
Madison Lilley’s mother, Kim, remembers a visit they made to Kentucky before Lilley signed with coach Craig Skinner.
“I remember sitting in Craig’s office and Madison said, ‘We are going to be winning SEC titles and have people looking at us,’” Kim Lilley said. “I remember thinking not that it would not happen but I wondered if she realized the work involved. She embraced it all like all the girls and now they are national champions.”
Madison Lilley is from Overland Park, Kansas — about 2 1/2 hours south of Omaha where the NCAA Tournament bubble was. Her family was able to attend all five UK tournament matches.
“It has been amazing and was a really awesome experience for everyone,” Brent Lilley said Sunday. “It was just so nice for us to be there and see all the matches and also feel like we were a big part of the Big Blue Nation for a couple of weeks.”