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Ex-Middleton volleyball star Molly (Toon) Lillard dies in apparent murder-suicide
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Ex-Middleton volleyball star Molly (Toon) Lillard dies in apparent murder-suicide

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Molly (Toon) Lillard, a former Middleton High School and University of Michigan volleyball standout, died Sunday in Scottsdale, Arizona, after what police described as an apparent murder-suicide.

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On Monday, police identified the couple as Molly Elizabeth Lillard, 28, and Royce Dale Lillard III, 36, in a press release, according to an report (The Arizona Republic).

Molly Toon head shot

Molly Toon when she was at the University of Michigan 

She’s the daughter of Jane and Al Toon, a former standout University of Wisconsin and NFL player, and siblings Nick (a former UW and NFL player), Kirby (a former UW volleyball player) and Sydney (who also played volleyball at Middleton and at UW-Whitewater) also were in athletics. 

Molly Toon, a 2010 Middleton graduate, was an outside hitter who was a four-year varsity girls volleyball player, a two-time captain, a two-time all-Big Eight Conference selection and twice led her team (2008 and 2009) to state prior to playing at Michigan. She also was a two-time second-team All-State player in high school, according to her Michigan bio.

Franco Marcos, her girls volleyball coach at Middleton, said in a phone interview with the State Journal Monday night that he was told Monday about his former player’s death.

“I coached her prior to high school in a club season and then four years in high school,” said Marcos, who’s now volleyball coach at Madison Country Day. “Knowing the family and Al, it’s really hard to hear a story like that. … It’s sad. I really don’t know what to say. It’s such a tragic loss and the way it happened.”

According to the Arizona Republic newspaper report, Royce Lillard III of Scottsdale, who was suspected of fatally shooting his wife, barricaded himself in his home and was later found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound Sunday, according to the Scottsdale Police Department.

Police responded to a shooting in east Scottsdale at around 5 p.m. Sunday and found a woman with gunshot wounds in front of a house. The woman was taken to a hospital, where she died from her injuries, according to the report.

Police said the shooter, who was the victim's husband, went back inside the house.

Police weren’t able to communicate with the husband, according to the police release. When a SWAT team went inside the home at around 10:45 p.m. Sunday, officers discovered the husband had died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the report.

The couple's 8-month-old child also was present during the shooting, but was not injured and is currently in the care of family, according to the report.

Marcos, who coached Middleton for 23 years and led the Cardinals to four WIAA state tournament appearances (2001, 2002, 2008 and 2009), said after Molly Toon’s outstanding playing career at Middleton that “she went off and had a great career at Michigan.”

She was a four-year varsity letterwinner as a 6-foot outside hitter at Michigan from 2010-2013. She received All-American honorable-mention recognition from the American Volleyball Coaches Association as a senior in 2013. 

Marcos said he learned the news of her death after a current player at Madison Country Day recently died of a medical condition.

“Then to hear this sad news about Molly, it has been a rough day,” he said, adding: “We had the heavy hearts. Extra prayers for my current player and now I hear about Molly. Two of my players — a current player and a former player. I’m saying extra prayers for them and their families.”

Al Toon played at UW from 1982-84, compiling 131 receptions for 2,103 yards in three seasons. He’s eighth and sixth, respectively, in those categories at UW.

Nick Toon played for the Badgers from 2008-11. He’s fourth all-time in both receptions (171) and receiving yards (2,103).

State Journal reporter Jim Polzin contributed to this report. 

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Jon Masson covers high school sports for the Wisconsin State Journal. He has covered a variety of sports — including the Green Bay Packers and Wisconsin men's and women's basketball and volleyball — since he first came to the State Journal in 1999.

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