Sapporo, Japan, September 2, 2013 – Finishing the 2013 FIVB World Grand Prix Finals with four wins and a loss in Sapporo, China won a silver medal at the six-team round robin tournament, equalling their best result since 2007, when they also finished in second place.
More than four months after taking the helm of the national team, Lang Ping has set China on the right path to returning to the world elite teams club.
“China are in very good shape,” Brazil head coach José Roberto Guimares said. “There are a lot of changes, they rotated the players and I can see their improvement.”
Before falling 3-0 to Brazil in their last round match, China won 13 matches in the World Grand Prix to set the record for their longest winning streak in the competition. It was also China’s first defeat in 20 matches under their newly appointed coach Lang Ping, who took over from Yu Juemin following a disappointing quarterfinal finish at last year’s London 2012 Olympic Games.
“It is a little surprising to me that we come out with the silver medal, I did not expect that,” Lang Ping said. “I think it’s a pretty good result. Although we had ups and downs during the tournament, I am very happy that our players achieved this result with great team work.”
Lang Ping tried to use different players and line-ups throughout the World Grand Prix. She even rested Zhu Ting, who was later selected in the World Grand Prix Dream Team as fist outsider hitter, for the match against Brazil.
“We came to the Grand Prix to try and play all the players so they could use the tournament to grow. I don’t want to play only six players,” said Lang Ping. “Sometimes young players like Zhu Ting had ups and downs, so we want to let her watch some games to learn and then come into the game with heavy pressure. We are trying to develop our young players; this is our goal.”
Despite the good result, Lang Ping believed that her team had a lot to improve to be a real strong team.
"We learned so much and also could see the talent of our young players. We know in the future what we want to work on; there are lots of areas we can improve,” she said. “What we should learn from Brazil and Japan is ball control. If we can improve on that, we can speed up and play more tactical combinations.”
For now the Chinese players are enjoying playing under the guidance of their childhood idol.
“This is a new team and we have a new coach. I think we have learned a lot from her and we will just try our best,” said Wang Yimei.