FIVB VNL 2019 preview – will the cards fall right for China?

Led by a former coach of the USA women’s national team, China is among the favorites to win the FIVB VNL 2019. The Chinese have firmly established themselves as a formidable world-class squad capable of great things on any given day.

This team finished third last year but the tide could swiftly turn in its favor this year in its quest for a potential gold.

2018 FIVB VNL record & stats

Win/loss: 7 / 8

Points: 22

Sets win/loss/ratio: 29 / 27 / 1.074

Points win/loss/ratio: 1237 / 1178 / 1.050

Final position: 3rd

What’s new for China in FIVB VNL 2019?

China is one of the rare teams — if not the only one — in the world with such player depth that it can field almost any roster and still be capable of winning.

Its provisional roster contains a good mix of experienced and uncapped players, though it will be interesting what that balance looks like as players are cut.

With only global star Zhu Ting playing club volleyball outside of China there is rarely much known about the form of the Chinese players as they head into major competition. However, we can be sure that it will be a strong contender.

China world ranking: 2 (October 2018)

China provisional roster

Full provisional roster listed with subsequently cut players highlighted in red.

Head coach: Jenny Lang Ping

Setters: Diao Linyu, Yao Di, Sun Yan, Ding Xia, Sun Haiping

Liberos: Lin Li, Wang Mengjie, Ni Feifan, Wang Weiyi

Middle Blockers: Yuan Xinyue, Yang Hanyu, Hu Mingyuan, Wang Yuanyuan, Zheng Yixin, Yan Ni, Gao Yi

Wing Spikers (Outside & Opposite Hitters): Zhu Ting, Gong Xiangyu, Zeng Chunlei, Zhang Changning, Liu Xiaotong, Li Yingying, Liu Yanhan, Duan Fang, Wu Han, Du Qingqing, Zhang Yichan, Jin Ye, Che Wanhan, Wang Yizhu

Average age: 23.7 (10th oldest)

Average height: 186.5cm (2nd tallest)

China players to watch in FIVB VNL 2019: Zhu Ting, Li Yingying

You can’t talk about the Chinese national women’s volleyball team without mentioning its wildly popular star player Zhu Ting.

The 24-year-old middle blocker has cemented her reputation as a high-caliber player with her own brand of physicality, strength, and versatility. One of her unique capabilities is her skill with aggressively hitting the ball away from the body, which makes her an even bigger threat to opponents. Zhu Ting was named Best Outside Spiker at last year’s FIVB VNL as well as in the 2018 World Championship.

She’s gained quite the following both at home and abroad, and that recognition tangibly extends to her being the world’s highest paid professional volleyball player.

Commentators have also noted that if there’s any female player who can compete in the men’s game, it’s Zhu Ting.

Another player worth looking out for is Li Yingying. She’s also very young at just 19 and is fairly new to the senior women’s team. She’s a left-handed wing spiker with plenty of upside and a complete all-around game. She was named Most Valuable Player in the Chinese Volleyball League during the 2017-18 season. Some believe she could be the next Zhu Ting.

Zhu Ting celebrates with Li Yingying. Source: FIVB.com

China FIVB VNL 2019 match schedule

All fixture times listed in GMT.

Week 1

May 21 at 23:00 – Brazil v China

May 22 at 20:00 – China v Russia

May 23 at 20:00 – China v Dominican Republic

Week 2

May 28 at 11:30 – China v Thailand

May 29 at 11:30 – China v Belgium

May 30 at 11:30 – China v Korea

Week 3

June 4 at 12:30 – Netherlands v Ia

June 5 at 12:30 – Netherlands v China

June 6 at 12:30 – China v Italy

Week 4

June 11 at 12:00 – China v Poland

June 12 at 12:00 – China v Turkey

June 13 at 12:00 – China v USA

Week 5

June 18 at 11:30 – China v Germany

June 19 at 11:30 – China v Bulgaria

June 20 at 11:30 – China v Serbia

China games to watch out for in FIVB VNL 2019

There’s no question China’s best games would be against fellow heavyweights such as USA, Italy, Serbia, Netherlands and Brazil. Expect a dog fight among these teams, especially since the stakes are higher with the Tokyo Olympics about to roll around.

The bottom line: Will the cards fall right for China?

China settled for bronze at last year’s FIVB VNL after a shaky start to the tournament. It also collected another bronze in the World Championship.

Regardless of those results, this is a team capable of winning gold. It is strong overall but more so in the middle and on the outsides.

But China’s main asset is its talented coach. Lang Ping, who also played on the Chinese national team in her day, is the first person to win Olympic gold medals both as a player and as a coach. After guiding USA to a silver medal in the 2008 Olympics, she then led China to a gold in the 2016 Olympics.

Lang Ping is known for her man management and ultimately her uncanny ability to make teams peak at the right time. That much was clear during last year’s FIVB VNL.

In that sense, everyone should watch out for China as it gears up for the Olympics next year. Lang Ping will want her team to be humming and ready to peak by then.

What is a realistic FIVB VNL projection for the China women’s team?

A slot on the podium is a very real expectation for China. It would be a surprise if it didn’t achieve that and ultimately a disappointment.

How to watch China in FIVB VNL 2019

FIVB haven’t as yet released the broadcast details for the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League. Once it is updated we will update this section.

For now we are able to say that fans in China were able to watch the 2018 tournament on CCTV.