China has named its 14-woman roster for the 2018 Asian Games, where the women’s indoor competition will run from August 19th-31st in Indonesia. China won silver at the 2014 edition behind South Korea, but China will be heavy favorites for 2018 with a mostly-full roster. For Asian nations, this event is often treated as an even higher-priority event than World Championships, given the geo-political pressures within the region.
The 2018 Chinese squad includes 12 of the 14 members that swept Brazil for bronze at the 2018 Nations League earlier this month. Among the names are outside hitter Zhu Ting, and Li Yingying. The former, Zhu, was the MVP of the 2016 Olympic Games and is one of the most unstoppable offensive forces in the world of volleyball today. The 18-year old Li has similar potential, and made that clear in her National Team debut this season in the Nations League. In week 1 of the tournament, where Zhu was absent, Li led the team and scoring from the opposite position. That built on a preceding club season in China where she set the league record for most points in a match with 45.
Chinese head volleyball coach Lang Ping brought her teenage star along very slowly, including sitting her in crucial moments (like in the semi-finals), but when both she and Zhu were on the floor, China again looked like they could be the world’s most dominant team.
The interesting revelation of the Chinese roster is that Li is listed as an outside hitter, as compared to opposite where most of her volleyball has been played. At 6’3″ tall, and as a left-handed hitter, the opposite position seems to make the most sense. This, however, could be further indication that Li will be slowly brought along: playing at outside will force her to improve her passing, a weakness of her young game, and she’s listed as the team’s 3rd option behind Zhu and Zhang Changning, so that might mean more time in observation.
The two absences from the Nations League roster are Yi Gao and Yang Fangxu. Yi, a 19-year old middle blocker, was benched in favor of bringing a 3rd setter, Yao Di, to the tournament. Yang, an opposite who was a member of the Chinese Olympic team in 2016 that won gold, was left off the roster in favor of outside hitter Zhang Changning, one of the country’s most famous players who is returning after undergoing ankle surgery. Neither Yi nor Yang saw the court in the bronze medal match of the Nations League.
Chinese Roster, 2018 Asian Games
- Setter: Ding Xia, Diao Linyu, Yao Di
- Outside Hitter: Zhu Ting (C), Zhang Changning, Li Yingying, Liu Xiaotong
- Middle Blocker: Yuan Xinyue, Yan Ni, Hu Mingyuan
- Opposite: Zeng Chunlei, Gong Xiangyu
- Libero: Lin Li, Wang Mengjie