"Center Ace" (Japanese: ”センターエース” "Sentā Ēsu") is the seventy-ninth chapter of the Haikyū!! series written and illustrated by Haruichi Furudate. It was published in the 44th issue of Weekly Shōnen Jump’s 2013 series.
Other teams are amazed at Hinata and Kageyama's quick strike. But Hinata doesn't appear to be satisifed with what he has, recalling other players who were able to stop his attack. He later notices Inuoka who is in the sidelines cheering for his teammates, and shifts his attention to a certain player.
Seeing Hinata jumping to attack, Shinzen captain Daiki Ogano calls for Eikichi Chigaya to stop him. Eikichi tries to block Hinata but fails, thus allowing Karasuno to finally win a match and avoid the penalty lap.
As Tanaka and Nishinoya watch the match between Ubugawa High and Nekoma High, Hinata starts to notice that the super quick is starting to not be as effective. When faced with faster opponents, it's getting to where some can block the quick attack.
Hinata suddenly hears the voice of Inuoka cheering to a player on his team. Hinata looks out to the court and sees Nekoma's new middle blocker use a whip-like spike to spike the ball above the Ubugawa blockers and score. Sugawara and Asahi are amazed at how tall the newest Nekoma player is as well as how long his arms and legs are, making him seem inhuman.
Later that night, Hinata is walking with Kenma and Inuoka outside the gym. Inuoka compliments that Hinata's quick attack seems as strong as ever thought Hinata seems to disagree before asking the two about their new middle blocker. Kenma tells him their new player is Lev Haiba, a half-Japanese half-Russian first year who only began playing volleyball that year. He tells Hinata that the reason they did not meet Lev during Golden Week was due to Lev having to stay behind to continue learning the basics of volleyball.
Hinata is amazed at hearing that Lev only recently started playing volleyball before Kenma adds that Lev is still currently relying on his natural athletic ability, intuition, and incredible height. Hinata and Inuoka both curse how tall Lev is with Inuoka vowing that he will not be beaten by the new addition. Despite this, Kenma does admit that Lev is capable of being a reliable player and is an honest person; though to a fault at times. To Hinata's dismay, Kenma points out that Lev is probably the one player worse than him when it comes to serves and receives. The three not noticing when Kai, Yaku, and Fukunaga watch their interaction and Yaku beaming with pride at how Kenma has opened up around Hinata.
Hinata is walking to the bathroom when he runs into Lev. He right away begins to panic as he tries to think of how to greet someone in Russian but Lev surprises him by greeting Hinata in Japanese and confesses that he actually does not know any Russian; having been born and raised in Japan. Hinata introduces himself and asks Lev how tall he is. Lev in turn introduces himself as a Nekoma first year and that he last measured at 194 cm. He then accidentally points out how Hinata seems shorter up close, sending Hinata into a rage. Despite his height, Lev does admire Hinata's jumps but believes that he can jump even higher.
Hinata then jumps to prove that he can reach higher but accidentally hits the door frame. He vows that he will beat Lev when it comes to jump height but does admit that he's impressed how Lev seems to be able to spike past blockers without any trouble. Lev claims this is due to him being the ace of Nekoma. Hinata questions how Lev can be the ace since he's a middle blocker and ace's are normally a wing spiker. Lev believes that the position does not matter and the ace is actually the one who can score the most points. He soon departs after promising Hinata that he will be the first to block his super quick attack.
The next day, Karasuno is playing a match when Coach Naoi comments that Hinata and Kageyama's quick attack seems even sharper than during Golden Week. Coach Nekomata agrees but also sees that the way Karasuno is now wasn't enough to get them further in the InterHigh.
Looking over to the Nekoma and Fukurōdani match, Hinata watches as Kenma sets a broad jump to Lev. Lev's large strides have allowed him to shake off the blockers and score a back corner shot. The middle blocker then apologizes to Kenma for being bossy in asking for the set but Kenma says that it's fine and is actually surprised that he asked for a broad jump out of the blue; surprising Hinata and Kageyama who overheard this.
Hinata now seems to find truth in Lev's words that the ace is the player who is able to score the most points while Coach Nekomata wonders what Karasuno will do in order to become stronger.
- Shōyō Hinata
- Daiki Ogano
- Tobio Kageyama
- Ryūnosuke Tanaka
- Daichi Sawamura
- Yū Nishinoya
- Takanobu Aone (flashback only)
- Hajime Iwaizumi (flashback only)
- Sō Inuoka
- Yūki Shibayama
- Lev Haiba
- Kenma Kozume
- Asahi Azumane
- Kōshi Sugawara
- Kōtarō Bokuto
- Masaki Gōra
- Yūtarō Kindaichi (flashback only)
- Morisuke Yaku
- Manabu Naoi
- Yasufumi Nekomata
- Taketora Yamamoto (mentioned only)
- Tōru Oikawa (flashback only)
- Akira Kunimi (flashback only)
- Shinji Watari (flashback only)
- Kei Tsukishima
- Nobuyuki Kai
- Shōhei Fukunaga
- Even though Lev is half-Russian, he cannot speak Russian.