Head Coach Gokhan Yilmaz enters his second season at the helm of Charlotte volleyball after completing a 17-win campaign in 2014. Yilmaz helped turn around a struggling program in his first season posting the most wins since 2006 while clinching the team's first conference tournament berth since 2010.
Yilmaz made an immediate impact guiding the Niners to three tournament team titles in his first four weeks claiming the Charlotte Invitational with a 3-1 record, Wildcat Classic going a perfect 3-0 over three in-state rivals before recording a 3-1 mark in the North Florida/Jacksonville Invitational. Of the four total non-conference tournaments, Charlotte saw eight players land on all-tournament teams, three of those named MVP (Semen Sen, Britney Leigh Held and Savannah Gaster) while snagging two Conference USA Player of the Week (Held and Shelby Green) awards.
In his first season, Yilmaz's 49ers routinely led the Nation in five offensive categories including team assists, digs, kills, aces and attacks. Charlotte ended the 2014 season leading Conference USA in all five of those same categories. The Niners were the only C-USA squad to record at-least 2,000 digs with 2,154 which became the fourth-highest total in school history and most since 1993. Charlotte broke the century mark for digs with a season high 103 during a 3-2 win over Nicholls State on September 20th. The Niners nearly did it two weeks earlier with 98 at Western Carolina.
Yilmaz brought life back into the program putting up some historic team numbers for the first time since as far back as 2002. Charlotte's 1,782 kills in 2014 were the most since 2006 while their 12.91 kills per set was the best mark since 2007. The fast-paced Niners offense threw out nearly 5,000 attacks (4,941) for the first time since 2002 and hit .202 on the year which was the best percentage since 2006. The offense can't roll without assists in which Charlotte posted 1,668 equaling the most since '06 again averaging 12.09 per set which goes back to 2007. To round out, the Niners served up 80 more aces from 2013 to 2014 with 183 which became the most since 2004. In blocking, Charlotte's 73 solo blocks were the most since 99 were recorded in 2003 while the 376 block assists and 449 total blocks were the highest since 2010.
Yilmaz would win his first three matches of the season during the opening weekend Charlotte Invitational with 3-1 victories over Morgan State and ETSU with a 3-0 sweep of UNCG sandwiched in-between. The Niners scored their first Conference USA win of the year with a convincing 3-0 sweep over UAB at home on September 26th hitting a season-high .440 over the three sets. Charlotte concluded the 2014 regular season on a season-high four-match win streak helping them clinch the eighth and final spot in the Conference USA tournament. The Niners would post four different win streaks throughout the year consisting of at-least three victories in a row.
The 49ers announced the appointment of Yilmaz as the volleyball program’s 11th head coach on January 9, 2014. The former Turkish Junior National Team coach joined Charlotte after six years as the Associate Head Coach and Training Coordinator with Florida State University, which captured three Atlantic Coast Conference titles in the past five seasons, advancing to the National semifinals in 2011.
In addition to the 2011 National Semifinal appearance, the Seminoles achieved a pair of NCAA national quarterfinal appearances and three times advanced to the round of 16 in the NCAA Volleyball during his time there. As the lead recruiter at FSU, the Seminoles’ turned in the number-three recruiting class in the nation in 2012, and the program had a 151-41 overall record and an 11-5 NCAA Tournament record during the last six years with him on the staff. In his years as the training coach, he cultivated 13 All-Americans, five league Players of the Year, one league Freshman of the Year and 24 All-Conference performers.
Previous to FSU, Yilmaz had sandwiched two stints as an assistant at Arkansas around a coaching stop as an assistant at Northwood University in Florida, which reached the NAIA Regional semifinals in 2005. He had previous collegiate coaching experience as an assistant at Division II programs Cameron University and Western New Mexico.
Prior to his years of collegiate experience in the U.S., Yilmaz coached volleyball at five institutions in his native Turkey, as well as serving as the head coach of the Junior National Champions. While the head coach of Uskudar Cmh High, his Youth Boys team captured the National Championship in 2002, with his high school team capturing the City Championship and finishing as National Runners-Up. Both his Youth and High School teams at Besiktas were National Finalists in 2001. He coached National Champions with the Youth team in 2000 and the Middle School team at Galatasaray in 1998. He started coaching on the professional level in Turkey in 1999, helping his team to the quarterfinals in the playoffs in 2000 as the second assistant.
In addition to the National Turkish program, he has worked with national team coaches of Cuba, Russia, and Bulgaria, staffs that work on both national and Olympic levels. He was the guest coach on the Turkish Junior National Team in Alanya, Turkey, which was the World Runner-Up in the World Championships in 2009. In 2012, he was among a group of coaches facilitating a coaching clinic with the Turkish Volleyball Federation as part of that country's coaches education program.
Yilmaz got his start coaching in 1995 after his final playing year with Besiktas, which followed four seasons playing with the Eczacibasi Sports Club.
He earned his Bachelor’s in Eastern European Studies in 2002 from Istanbul University, adding a Master’s in Sports Psychology from Cameron University in 2005.