Under the talismanic leadership of Olympic Games hero Lang Ping, China finished second in the Group 1 pool stage in last year’s World Grand Prix. But in the Final Six they could only manage wins against Belgium and Turkey and they finished in fifth place. It was a disappointment after taking the silver medal in 2013 when, in her second spell as team coach, Lang had revamped the team and put her faith in young players. Her strategy paid off with their best result in the tournament since 2007 as the Chinese strove to restore their status as an international volleyball powerhouse. Another success followed at the 2014 World Championship where they took the silver medal after losing to USA in the gold medal match in Milan.
China have twice won Olympic gold medals, at Los Angeles 1984 and Athens 2004. In addition to winning the World Grand Prix in 2003, they have also triumphed in the World Championship twice, the World Cup three times and the Grand Champions Cup once. Volleyball was the first sport at which China succeeded on a global scale and its cultural importance was never more evident than in the 1980s when it enjoyed huge popularity and coach Lang made her name as a player.