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SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- After spending seven years in retirement, longtime Sacramento State assistant volleyball coach Weidi Zhang (pronounced way-DEE ZONG) has returned to the program and will spend this season as a volunteer assistant.

Zhang, who retired in 2009 after 23 years on the Sacramento State sidelines, never really left the program as he's been a regular in the stands at Hornet home matches since his retirement. One of the most well liked and respected coaches on campus for years, Zhang was with the team during its trip to China earlier this summer and began serving as volunteer assistant last Friday.

A native of Shanghai, Zhang's first stint as an assistant coach with the Hornets lasted from 1987-2009. During those 23 years, Sacramento State combined to post a 584-251 record (.699 winning percentage) to go along with 11 conference championships and 14 NCAA Tournament appearances.

"It's so exciting to have Weidi back in the gym coaching," Sacramento State 10th year head coach Ruben Volta said. "The team was extremely excited when they found out he was coaching this year. He brings such a wealth of experience, knowledge of the game and enthusiasm, and our players really soak in his coaching.

"When Weidi traveled with us to China over the summer, I think he really felt a connection with the team and he's excited to be back. I've known Weidi for a long time and had the pleasure of coaching with him for 10 years (2000-09). He was my coach for four years when I was a player at Sacramento State and it's great to have him back."

A 15-year international coaching veteran with 15 years of playing experience, his varied coaching duties prior to Sacramento State included stints as head coach of both the Shanghai women's professional team (1985-87) and men's professional team (1980-83, 1985-87) as well as the Nigerian National Team (1979-80). Additionally, Zhang spent time as an assistant coach with the Chinese National Team (1983-85).

He also coached the Sacramento State men's club team for 13 seasons (1989-2001). During that time, Zhang led the men's squad to numerous top 10 finishes and two NIRSA Div. I national titles (1995, 1997). Volta was an All-American setter for the 1995 team that went undefeated and won the national championship.

As a player, Zhang was the starting setter and captain of the Chinese National Team in 1975. He helped lead the squad to a third-place finish at the Asian Volleyball Championship that year. Prior to that, he played competitively with a local team from Shanghai (1966-74) which won the national championship on four occasions.

During the course of his playing career (1961-75), Zhang was the starting setter and team captain for all three teams in which he played (Shanghai Youth Volleyball Team, Shanghai Volleyball Team and the Chinese National Team).