China won successive World Championships in 1982 and 1986, defeating Peru and Cuba respectively, before taking the silver medal in 1990 and 1998. Since then, a fourth place finish in 2002 is the best they have managed after losing to Russia in the bronze medal match. In 2010, China finished sixth out of eight teams in their second round pool and lost the ninth-place match to Poland.
Last year's World Grand Prix silver medallists finished a disappointing fifth in the 2014 Final Six, with defeats to Brazil, Japan and Russia sealing their fate. The team won two Olympic gold medals, at Los Angeles 1984 and Athens 2004. In addition to winning the World Grand Prix in 2003, they have won the World Cup three times (1981, 1985 and 2003) and the Grand Champions Cup once (2001). They come to Italy striving to restore their status as an international volleyball powerhouse under the leadership of Lang Ping, who has returned for a second spell as coach.
Volleyball was the first sport at which China succeeded on a global scale, and its cultural importance was never more evident than in the 1980s when it enjoyed huge popularity. They will be seeking a return to the glory days of the 1980s under coach Lang, who was a leading star in that era of success as part of the team that won gold at the 1984 Olympic Games.