There is little doubt that for China’s female national teams 2013 has
been a year to remember.
While Chinese playing and coaching legend “Jenny” Lang Ping was
brought in to stimulate the fortunes of the women’s senior team
her very presence back at the Chinese Volleyball Federation has also
worked wonders for the motivation and fortunes of the women’s age-
group teams. Their gold at the inaugural FIVB Women’s U23 World
Championship in Mexico completed the full set of age-group medals
this year and showed that there is a wealth of talent just below senior
level waiting to burst through into the full national team.
In the gold medal match Liu Yanhan and Zhang Xiaoya each scored
17 points, while Zhang Zou added nine and Gu Xinwei and Wang
Qi contributed eight apiece. Their scoring allowed Xu Jiande’s side
to race away to a 3-0 win over the Dominican Republic at the Baja
California High Performance Center in Tijuana.
Earlier in the year China’s gold rush began at the FIVB Women’s U20
World Championship in Brno, Czech Republic; the second time in
their history that they claimed the title.
Xu Jiande was again in charge of a team that swept the board and
finished with a flourish as they beat Japan in the final. In a match that
set an ominous tone for the rest of the summer, China showed no
mercy to their traditional continental neighbours with a 3-0 victory.
Then later in the summer it was USA who were China’s final
opponents at the FIVB Girls’ U18 World Championship in Thailand
and while they too fought hard, it wasn’t enough to avoid a 3-0
defeat in the final.
In the men’s age-group tournaments only Brazil’s win at the FIVB
Men’s U23 World Championship ensured that the men’s tournaments
weren’t also dominated by one country.
Russia had already won the U21 and U19 World Championships and
went into U23 World Championship, which tested the 21 points per
set rule, confident that they could add the inaugural title to their
myriad of honours.
Russia hadn’t reckoned with the host nation Brazil though and their
legion of vociferous fans that filled the Arena Presidente Tancredo
Neves in Uberlandia throughout the competition and roared their
favourites on to a 3-0 victory in the semifinals; a victory that stopped
Russia’s thoughts of a third age-group title in the one year.
The gold medal match against Serbia wasn’t as straight forward for
them though and twice the east Europeans fought back to force a
tie-break before Brazil won 3-2 (29-27, 15-21, 21-17, 19-21, 15-13).
Opposite Rafael Araujo led Brazil with 23 points and was well assisted
by captain Lucarelli who scored 12 and middle blocker Otavio