Kentucky’s Madison Lilley named 2020-21 SEC Female Athlete of the Year

Becomes the second female ever to win the award from Kentucky


LEXINGTON, Ky. (UK Athletics) – Kentucky Volleyball setter Madison Lilley was named the 2020-21 Roy F. Kramer Southeastern Conference Female Athlete of the Year, the conference office announced Wednesday morning. She is the first-ever volleyball player to win the award in the history of the SEC.


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Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith, who won the Heisman Trophy at Alabama, was named the male winner of the award for 2020-21.


“We are proud to honor DeVonta and Madison, who not only excelled in the SEC but were also recognized as the best in their sport across the country. They are the ultimate examples of what it means to be a student-athlete in the Southeastern Conference,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. “DeVonta and Madison both were members of national championship teams and recipients of their sport’s national player of the year award. Each has competed at the highest level of collegiate athletics, benefitted from the world-class support provided by their universities and, through their hard work, dedication and commitment to excellence, have reached the pinnacle of collegiate athletic success. Congratulations to DeVonta and Madison and thank you for being part of the SEC!”


Lilley becomes just the second female student-athlete from Kentucky to win the award, joining Jenny Hansen in 1995. She is the eighth athlete from UK ever to win the award (AJ Reed, 2014; Anthony Davis, 2012; Tim Couch, 1999; Jenny Hansen, 1995; Jamal Mashburn, 1993; Kyle Macy, 1980; Jack Givens, 1978). The SEC began the men’s award in 1976 and the women’s award in 1984.


Past winners of this award from the SEC are Peyton Manning, Joe Burrow, Candace Parker, Tim Tebow, Bo Jackson and Bridget Sloan.


Lilley was named the conference’s Player of the Year this season, in addition to winning AVCA National Player of the Year honors and capturing the 2020-21 Honda Award for volleyball. She was one of the key pieces to Kentucky’s first-ever NCAA national championship win over Texas, logging 53 assists and a career-high 19 digs in the title match.


“Given the number of incredible athletes in our league, to be elected SEC Female Athlete of the Year is an elite honor,” said Mitch Barnhart, UK Director of Athletics. “What made Madison so special is that she is worthy of being chosen from both an individual and a team perspective.  Individually, her record-setting performance on the court speaks for itself. In addition, the way she led her team – with unyielding commitment to make her teammates their very best and her indomitable will to win – makes her deserving of this distinction.”


Lilley is one of four finalists for the 2021 ESPY Award in the category of Female College Athlete of the Year. The winners will be announced during the ESPY’s, scheduled to take place July 10 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.


“I’m proud of what Madison has achieved as an athlete. It’s truly incredible what she’s accomplished,” UK head coach Craig Skinner said. “What I’m even more proud of is her vision that she set forth for herself and the team. She set out a path to win a national championship and she followed through with it like the champion she is.”


Exceptional in the classroom, as well, Lilley graduated from Kentucky in the spring with a degree in Integrated Strategic Communications and was named CoSIDA Academic All-District this season for the first time in her career. She is on the ballot for Academic All-America, currently in the voting process.


Madison Lilley Season Accomplishments:

  • 2020 NCAA National Champion
  • 2020 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player
  • 2020-21 AVCA National Player of the Year
  • 2020-21 AVCA First Team All-American
  • 2020-21 SEC Player of the Year
  • 2020-21 AVCA Region Player of the Year
  • All-time assists leader at Kentucky
  • Led the NCAA with 12.37 assists per set
  • Paced the UK offense to the highest hitting percentage of any team in the NCAA
  • Senior CLASS Award finalist
  • Graduated from Kentucky in May with a degree in Integrated Strategic Communication


For the 2020-21 season, the other male nominees were: Kevin Kopps, Arkansas (baseball); Ryan Bliss, Auburn (baseball);  Kieran Smith, Florida (swimming & diving); Karel Tilga, Georgia (track & field); Liam Draxl, Kentucky (tennis); JuVaughn Harrison, LSU (track & field); Elijah Moore, Ole Miss (football); Tanner Allen, Mississippi State (baseball); Danny Kovac, Missouri (swimming & diving); Daniel Rodrigues, South Carolina (tennis); Adam Walton, Tennessee (tennis); Shaine Casas, Texas A&M (swimming & diving); Kumar Rocker, Vanderbilt (baseball).


For the 2020-21 season, the other female nominees were: Mercy Chelangat, Alabama (cross country); Chelsea Dungee, Arkansas (basketball); Joyce Kimeli, Auburn (track & field); Trinity Thomas, Florida (gymnastics); Katarina Jokic, Georgia (tennis); Haleigh Bryant, LSU (gymnastics); Julia Johnson, Ole Miss (golf); Shayla Broughton, Mississippi State (track & field); Brooke Wilmes, Missouri (softball); Aliyah Boston, South Carolina (basketball); Latavia Maines, Tennessee (track & field); Tyra Gittens, Texas A&M (track & field); Christina Rosca, Vanderbilt (tennis).

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Bryan Kennedy hails from the Bluegrass State. He was born and raised in Owensboro, KY where he graduated from Apollo High School in 2006. Bryan graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Spanish in 2010. He also received his master's degree in Sports Media and Branding from Western Kentucky University. While at UK, Bryan was the general manager of the on-campus TV station. He also did sports reporting, anchoring, producing and even the weather for UK Student News Network. While working for UKSNN, he also had the pleasure of covering Coach John Calipari's first press conference when he was introduced as the new head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats; easily one of his favorite moments as a young sports reporter. Before coming to ABC 36, Bryan was a morning anchor and reporter at WXXV News 25, our sister station in Gulfport, MS. He anchored more than four hours of news every day, including morning shows on NBC and Fox. While down south, Bryan had the opportunity to cover the Sugar Bowl, New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans. After spending a little more than two years at WXXV, Bryan is extremely excited to return home. In his spare time, Bryan enjoys playing sports, especially rugby. He also enjoys crossfitting and watching sports (obviously). He's extremely excited to cover Central Kentucky. Feel free to say hello and send story ideas