China struggle in FIVB Volleyball Women’s Nations League

The Chinese women’s volleyball team, the defending Olympic champions, is staring at an early exit in the FIVB Volleyball Women’s Nations League after losing four straight matches.

Despite heading into the tournament as one of the favorites, China has struggled to find the form that resulted in a third-place finish in the last iteration of the competition in 2019.

China is currently 10th out of 16 teams in the VNL table, with only the top four qualifying for the finals. With challenging games against powerhouses such as the U.S., Brazil, and Russia still to come, the task of finishing inside the top four is looking difficult.

Head coach Láng Píng 郎平 will be concerned about her team’s performance with the Tokyo Olympics just around the corner this summer. Arriving in Italy ahead of the VNL, the new-look China team only featured three members of the 2016 Rio gold medal side: Zhāng Chángníng 张常宁, Liú Xiǎotóng 刘晓彤, and Lín Lì 林莉.

While an early exit in the VNL is far from ideal for Lang, the iconic coach will be buoyed by the fact that she should be able to call upon two Rio veterans — a returning Zhū Tíng 朱婷 and Yuán Xīnyuè 袁心玥 — for the Tokyo Olympics next month. The outside hitter Zhu Ting is one of the stars of the women’s games and the fulcrum of the Chinese attack.

China faces heavyweights Brazil tomorrow as it looks to turn around its fortunes in Italy.


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The China Sports Column runs every week on SupChina.

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