China finishes runners-up at Volleyball Nations League, best-ever result
Published: Jul 17, 2023 11:45 PM
China's women's volleyball team Photo: VCG

China's women's volleyball team Photo: VCG

China's women's volleyball team finished runners-up after a 1-3 defeat to Turkey at the FIVB Volleyball Nations League 2023 (VNL) on Monday in Texas, US, achieving the team's best-ever result in the event.

Three players from China eared their spots in the tournament's Dream Team, with Diao Linyu named the best setter, Li Yingying the best outside hitter and Yuan Xinyue the best middle blocker.

Despite losing in the final, China's women's team once again showcased their fighting spirit in adversity and secured their best result since the inception of the VNL in 2018. 

Han Qiaosheng, a well-known Chinese sports commentator, said the progress made by the young team is visible. "It's a bit of a pity finishing as runners-up. But the team improved from a 6th place in the last year's VNL and is getting better. Next, we will prepare for the Paris Olympics qualifier and try to secure a spot as soon as we can," Han said. 

"I've been following China's game since the beginning of the VNL. I'm upset but losing in the final is not a bad thing," a volleyball commentator posted on Weibo. "It helped us calm down and reflect on ourselves. There is still plenty of room for improvement. The most important goal of this year is qualifying for the Paris Olympics," he said. 

Out of the public's expectation, China was off to a blistering start in the VNL by winning six games in a row in the preliminary phase. But head coach Cai Bin was caught in the cross hairs after a four-game losing streak. China advanced to the VNL finals with an 8-4 win-loss record. China edged past Brazil and Poland in the quarterfinals and semifinals respectively before meeting Turkey in the final. 

Coach Cai told China Sports Daily after the final that the team gained valuable experience playing against these contenders and he acknowledged the players' efforts throughout the tournament.

"We had ups and downs but we took one step at a time and made progress after every game. We're still on a learning curve. I hope we can make quicker improvements in our ability to take control of the game," he said. China will begin their Paris Olympics qualifiers from September 16. The world No.6 will face Ukraine, Mexico, Czech Republic, Canada, Netherlands, Dominic Republic and Serbia in Pool A of the qualifier and the top two teams in this pool will secure their berths for Paris Olympics.