Charlotte volleyball is announcing the addition of four student-athletes for the 2012 fall season. The coaching staff, led by Chris Redding, will add Mireya Braxton, Britney Leigh Held, Michelle Hovey and Carly Ochs to the nine returning players from this year's squad.
"I am very excited about announcing our 2012 signing class," said Charlotte head coach Chris Redding, who just completed his fifth season with the program. "Our staff has worked extremely hard to not only find talented volleyball players, but to find young women with the drive to be successful on the court and in the classroom. This group has diverse talents that we feel will compliment a solid returning core."
Braxton played her high school volleyball at Providence High school in South Charlotte. The Panthers finished as conference champions with a 24-2 mark this season, after a state runner-up finish and 27-5 mark in 2010. The 5-11 middle led her team in blocking this past season. She has played with the Charlotte Juniors and the Carolina Union volleyball clubs. Coming from an athletic family, her older brother Brandon finished up his sophomore season as a wide receiver at Duke in 2011.
"Every time I saw her play, she was getting better," noted Redding. "Mireya is extremely fast out of the middle and will fit our style of offense. Another special fact about Mireya is that she is our first Charlotte recruit. Our staff has worked extremely hard over the last two years to pull one of the talented local players to Charlotte, and now we have."
Held is a setter from Brookfield, Wisconsin and played for the Lancers of Brookfield Central High. Standing at six feet, she was a four-time All-Conference performer and a two-time team MVP. She led the Lancers in kills and digs, surpassing the 1,000-kills mark for her career as she also played an outside hitter position. BCHS was ranked in the Top 10 in the state of Wisconsin for the first time in school history during her tenure there. The Lancers won the regional championship in each of the past three seasons, posting an 83-56 record in her four years there. Another athlete from an athletic family, her parents both played collegiate sports at UW-Milwaukee, with her father playing basketball and her mother playing on the volleyball squad. Held played her club volleyball for the Milwaukee Sting volleyball club.
"Britney is the next generation of our program," said Redding. "She is not only a talented attacker, she is a very athletic and competitive setter. She will be coming to us from one of the elite clubs out of the Midwest. With that, she brings both toughness and that championship attitude, and that is what a successful team needs from its setter position."
Hovey is a libero from Raleigh who played for Club Red, captaining the 14s squad and playing for the 16s at Junior Nationals. She was a Lighthouse Eagle, which earned N.C. Home School State Champions in 2010, and finished as the runner-up in 2009 and 2011. She is a two-time Team MVP and three-time All-Tournament Team performer, finishing tops in the state and fourth in the country in service aces per game, according to Max Preps. She logged 370 digs, good enough for 11th in the state of North Carolina last season. She comes from another sport-playing family, as her mother played collegiate softball.
"Michelle is an important addition to our program that (assistant coach) Jay (Correll) saw play with the Carolina Region High Performance Team," added Redding. "She is a talented libero that will immediately help improve our teams passing and digging. Besides her outstanding ball control skills, Michelle is a very mature player. She is going to add drive and competitiveness to our program.
Ochs is a 6-1 outside hitter from Town and Country, Missouri, just outside of Saint Louis. Playing for St. Joseph's Academy, her Angels won a state championship in 2010, earning a national number-one ranking by Prep Volleyball. They finished 31-7-0 and took second at the Nike Tournament of Champions. In 2011, the squad won the conference and finished fourth at the Nike Tournament of Champions, taking the number-one ranking for large schools in the state of Missouri and finishing 24-8. She was an Honorable Mention on the "Best High School Sophomores in the Country" list by Prep Volleyball and was on the "Senior Aces" Just-Missed List by the same publication. She was a First-Team All-Conference and All-Region performer, earning Honorable Mention All-State in the 4A ranks who led her conference in kills this season. Also surrounded by an athletic family, her mother was a collegiate basketball player at Avila College, while her dad cycled at Indiana. She has two uncles who were collegiate basketball players and a cousin who was a collegiate volleyball player at Creighton. Ochs played her club volleyball with the Rockwood Thunder.
"Carly was a very important recruit for us," said Redding. "To be successful at this level, you need talented outside hitters. One of the things I saw in Carly during the recruiting process was the fact that as an outside hitter, she could handle a heavy load of swings and still be successful. The other thing about Carly is that she has a fun, infectious personality, so we knew she would fit in with this team."
The 49ers won seven of their last nine matches to rally into a tie for sixth place in the Atlantic 10 Conference, ending with a 13-14 record. The team leaders in kills, digs and blocks all return to the squad for next season.