Host City: Beijing, China
Venue(s): Beijing Institute of Technology Gymnasium, Beijing; Capital Indoor Stadium, Beijing
Date Started: August 9, 2008
Date Finished: August 23, 2008
Format: Round-robin pool advanced teams to classification matches.
In the now standard format, 12 teams competed, separated into two pools of six, followed by elimination and medal/placement matches. The qualifying teams were selected as follows: host nation (China), World Cup (Italy, Brazil, United States), Continental qualifiers (Algeria, Kazakhstan, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela), and qualifying tournaments (Poland, Serbia, Japan).
Brazil's women's team had won seven FIVB World Grand Prix's since 1993 and was ranked number one coming in to Beijing. But the Brazilians had never won a gold medal in women's volleyball. At the 2006 World Championships, they had been runners-up behind Russia. The semi-finals saw Brazil playing the hometown Chinese, the defending gold medalists, and the United States playing the formerly dominant Cuban team. But neither team was a match for Brazil and the United States as both won easily in three sets. The United States had not won a major international event in women's indoor volleyball, but in Beijing, US teams won the men's indoor volleyball gold, and both beach volleyball gold medals. But Brazil was too strong, and the US could not sweep the volleyball gold medals, losing in four sets, 25-15, 18-25, 25-13, 25-21.