Zhang Changning leads China as captain in 2021 VNL

Zhang Changning comes from a volleyball playing family and tried beach volleyball before taking to the indoor court. Like most players her age, she dreamt of being part of the national team, but had to work her way up the ranks with consistently outstanding performances.

Things were difficult in the beginning and in 2015, the then under-20 player got her big break and helped China win the FIVB Volleyball World Cup. She did all she could to play her best volleyball and never looked back.

Zhang became one of China’s most prominent scoring weapons and helped her team to resounding successes at the Olympic Games, the World Cup, the FIVB Volleyball World Championships among others.

Zhang’s contribution, however, was not limited to scoring for the team. Coach Lang Ping saw that there was a bigger potential in her player and rewarded her for her work when she was named captain ahead of the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Nations League.

Her playing success put her in a position to take on a larger role on the cour and she has been impressive so far in balancing both roles as the team’s top scoring weapon and chief motivator.

She knows that as leader she has to work harder than anyone on China's side of the court and delivers in a level-headed manner, putting the team first.

“As captain I am very happy,” Zhang said. “I want to do good work with my teammates and to have a good performance in all matches.”

China dropped the first set of their 2021 VNL campaign, but Zhang recorded 23 points to lift China to a four-set win against Korea.

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“In the first set we were a little bit nervous. We felt a lot of pressure on ourselves, but we had good cooperation and we carried each other.”

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She cheered on her teammates from the sidelines in their straight-set loss to Japan, but her 18-point contribution to conclude the first week helped China improve their record to 2-1 with a straight-set win against Thailand. They started Week 2 with a five set victory against Germany and play newcomers Canada on Tuesday.