Haikyu!! – Episode 21 Review – “Senpai’s True Abilities”
As the match continued, Oikawa began to take note of Karasuno’s tendencies and exploited them. Karasuno had few answers for his troublesome serve as well. Kageyama held his own for a while but eventually the pressure got to him and his tosses became too erratic. Sugawara was then substituted in for Kageyama.
Sugawara immediately lifts some of the tension in his teammates, causing them to take back some of the momentum. He’s the ultimate team player who supports his spikers as much as they support him. As Sawamura notes, he is “the other Karasuno setter” rather than the “guy who lost his job to a first year.” He takes into account the emotional states of his teammates and uses that to decide which spiker to use. He is also good at picking up tendencies, just like Oikawa.
While the first set goes to Aoba Johsai 25 to 15, Karasuno doesn’t seem to be in the dumps too much. Sugawara also reinforces Kageyama’s resolve by stating that he can feel confident with Kageyama supporting him. Ukai changes up the defensive rotation, with only Nishinoya and Sawamura in the back of the court. It’s a strategy that limits Oikawa’s serve pretty well. Eventually Aoba Johsai figures out Sugawara’s rhythms, so Kageyama is sent back in. Ukai tells Sugawara that there will be a “next time” for the third year player.
Ukai has progressed into a dependable coach, keeping wild cards like Kageyama in check. I can see that he knows his players well, and can see ample opportunities to try and change the momentum. It looks like he’s caught the coaching bug! 🙂
Sugawara was the reliable reinforcement that Karasuno needed. It didn’t feel shoehorned in just so he could get some screen time either. His play meant something to the team. I hope we can see some more of his work in the future. I still think that Aoba Johsai is winning this match, but we will not be able to say that Karasuno did not put up a fight along the way.