Ikkei Ukai (Japanese:
After becoming hospitalized, he stopped his work as a high school coach. Currently, he coaches kids at Lil' Tykes Volleyball Classroom.
He has short gray-white hair and a tiny beard at the bottom of his chin. Despite his age, he appears to be well-built and athletic.
He appears scary and brisk at first sight but in truth, he is a kind person who wants the best for his students.
As a coach, he's very strict and uses brutal training methods; Tanaka stated once during the summer training camp that he "hasn't been running this much since Ukai Sr. stopped coaching the team". In addition, Ennoshita said that the ungrateful second-years left the volleyball club because of Ukai's harsh practices.
During his second year of middle school, Ikkei had encountered Yasufumi Nekomata during a volleyball match. Every spike he had attempted to land was saved by Nekomata who had claimed that Ikkei's spikes were easy to receive which made Nekomata look good to the coaches. It was at this point that Ikkei and Nekomata first became rivals. Upon learning that Nekomata had moved to Tokyo after their final middle school tournament, Ikkei became upset but did not falter in his determination to defeat Nekomata.
Ikkei would reunite with Nekomata when both their teams made it to the Spring Tournament during their second year of high school but they would not get to play against one another as their teams were defeated early on. From this point, the two would continue to challenge one another and, years later, would become coaches for their respective schools. Ikkei and Nekomata would have their teams meet for practice matches as often as possible and it was clear the two coaches grew closer as friends.
Before Karasuno was famous, the name Ukai was already well-known. After the Small Giant joined the team, Ikkei led Karasuno High to its first National Tournament. Some time afterward, Ikkei went into retirement for a while. Just a few months before Hinata and Kageyama joined Karasuno, Ikkei had temporarily come out of retirement to coach the team again but the esteemed coach collapsed and had to be hospitalized. It has been stated that one of the reasons he collapsed is that he overdid things in his younger years.
Ikkei currently coaches kids, college students, and adults of various ages at the Lil' Tykes Volleyball Classroom.
Tokyo Expedition Arc
Ukai has just been released from the hospital and is practicing with his students when Keishin Ukai brings Hinata to him for help with his training. Ukai criticizes Keishin for not knowing what to do with his own team and immediately flips his grandson over.
Hinata nervously exclaims that he came here to get stronger in order to fight on his own. Ukai states it's hard to take control of mid-air battles with that height, but Hinata quickly retorts that he wants to do it because of his height. His exclamation suddenly reminds Ukai of the Small Giant and the coach agrees to help Hinata.
After setting a court up, he explains to Hinata that in a quick strike, the spiker takes the initiative–something Hinata should never forget. He then tells Hinata to block the kids and starts setting up 'tempo' moves. Throughout the mini-match, Ukai's amazed by Hinata's high jumps. Afterwards, Ukai explains timing to Hinata, stating that in a quick strike, the setter matches the spiker; basically, it's an attack led by the spiker, not the other way around as Hinata and Kageyama have been doing it. As he explains the setter's and spiker's jobs, Keishin suddenly has a revelation and runs off, leaving Hinata with Ukai. Hinata then says determinedly that just reaching the top isn't enough, so he wants Ukai to teach him how to fight at the top.
During the time before the training camp, Ikkei continued to coach Hinata by having him practice first tempo with other setters in order to gain better control of the tempo and of his own body when he is playing with a different setter. After the training camp in Tokyo, Kageyama joins Hinata in training with Ukai in order to perfect their new attack. Seeing the attack succeed before him, Ikkei is left speechless.
Spring High Preliminary Arc
Karasuno vs Ohgiminami
Ukai attends the Karasuno vs Ohgiminami match with some of his students. When Gengorō Takahashi questions if he is there to see his grandson, Ikkei claims he is not. At hearing Takahashi explain how he had watched Karasuno play against Nekoma during Golden Week, Takahashi feels certain that Karasuno will go far in the tournament. However, Ikkei declares that there is no way to know for certain if victory is a guarantee and mentions a variety of ways that a player can do something to change the flow of the game.
Seeing Asahi start the game by landing a service ace, Ikkei is fairly impressed. However, at seeing Hinata use a diagonal jump to win the first set, Ikkei is shown with a thoughtful expression. Near the end of the second set, Ikkei comments how the third and second years seem to be playing even better than when he last saw them and feels certain that Karasuno's return to glory is partially due to their enthusiasm and leadership over the younger players. He tells of how the current third years had been part of Karasuno when their time as champions faded but still continued to be part of the team and eventually be the solid foundation of the team. At Karasuno's victory, Ikkei is seen smiling from the stands.
Karasuno vs Kakugawa
Ikkei stays to watch Karasuno play against Kakugawa High. As the match starts, Ikkei and everyone watches as Hyakuzawa is given the first set of the match in what he suspects is Kakugawa wanting to set the tone of the game by giving their ace the ball even though he would be faced with a triple block. Despite the triple block, Hyakuzawa was easily able to spike above them.
Throughout the first few rallies, Ikkei sees how much Karasuno is struggling to handle playing against someone of Hyakuzawa's height but still thinks that they can manage to turn things around if they come up with a way to handle such a large player besides facing him head on. After Karasuno called a time-out and began to counter by using Hinata's speed and the newly improved quick attack, Ikkei feels confident that Hyakuzawa must be the most surprised that he was outdone by someone much shorter than him.
When his student's question if using quick attacks like Hinata is the only way to beat someone as tall as Hyakuzawa, Ikkei asks them if they still remember all of the tempos. After they explain the different tempos to Mikako Hoshino, Ikkei comes to the conclusion that, because Hinata and Kageyama have already figured out the perfect timing and striking point, the tempo that Hinata uses for his quick attack is actually a minus tempo. As Hinata is able to score the final point to win the first set, Ikkei states that the attack still isn't in its ultimate form and still needs work to be at its full potential. He also warns his students that they should not attempt the minus tempo themselves since it would not just require speed but also a setter with nearly the same talent as Kageyama to make it possible. He still finds the attack impressive although he comments how the way it is being used is wasteful.
In the second set, one of his students asks if using the minus tempo is the only way to beat someone like Hyakuzawa. Ikkei answers that a team can use numbers to their advantage. At this, Karasuno unleashed a synchronized attack and Tanaka was able to score the next point. When Karasuno reached match point and Hinata was able to gain the last point by doing a block-out against Hyakuzawa's hand, Ikkei is taken by surprise by the tactic and wonders if Hinata did it intentionally. After giving Mikako advice of how her own team can use new methods to beat bigger opponents, Ikkei and his students leave.
Karasuno vs Shiratorizawa
During the fourth set of the match, Ikkei arrives and overhears Akiteru, Shimada, and Takinoue talking over the strategies being used and comments how they should have done the same when they had played. His statement and arrival surprise the men who are instantly on edge and try to defend themselves for not having put as much thought into their own games. As he takes a seat, Ikkei looks over the Shiratorizawa team and comments how Washijō has managed to put together yet another powerful line-up.
After Tanaka was blocked by Tendō, Ikkei is impressed that Karasuno was able to maintain the desire to attempt saving every ball. Despite this, he knows this isn't enough and that they will need to do something more in order to beat the school that is the reigning champion team of the prefecture. While watching Hinata do a run-up approach in order to have a higher block, Ikkei is excited to see that it's the run-up that allows Hinata to have wings.
When Saeko exclaims that Hinata should use this running approach every time and be corrected by Shimada, Ikkei eyes Takinoue when he proudly admits that he tried slacking off as much as he could but attempts to stop his confession even though the retired coach already heard it. However, Ikkei states that if he had been able to be successful in slacking off with no one noticing, then there isn't anything to complain about. While watching Hinata continue to use his full speed and jumping power through rallies, Ikkei knows that the short middle blocker doesn't have the luxury of being able to slack off like others and has to give his all in everything he does.
After Yamaguchi's serve is cut off and the men are commenting how Ushijima has maintained his form and stamina all throughout the match, Ikkei points out that, if Shiratorizawa was more at a disadvantage in the set, Ushijima would most likely be pulled out in order to gather his strength for the final set. But since that doesn't appear to be the case, he does not hold back in saying that Shiratorizawa could walk away with the set and win the game. Near the end of the set, Shizuyasu Yokoyama shouts out his support for Karasuno to win. Ikkei expresses his surprise that Yokoyama is still attending Karasuno matches.
When Tendō attempted to block Hinata's quick but the ball landed out of bounds, Akiteru comments how aggressive Kageyama is but Ikkei believes that the first year setter was actually sending a silent warning to the opposing team needing to keep their guard up. Hinata was soon able to win the set for Karasuno when he used his left hand to tip the ball over thanks to the training Ikkei had him go through. Ikkei has a look of pride when Hinata was able to use his training to perform the left handed hit.
At watching Nishinoya perform a jump set, Ikkei is highly amused at expressing that it's clear that the libero is not very skilled in overhand receives but does like the courage Nishinoya has. As the fifth set continues, Ikkei sees how each team is putting forth every last bit of effort and energy they have despite it being clear they do not have much stamina and concentration left. When Shiratorizawa reached match point and it was clear that Karasuno was starting to feel defeated, Ukai shouts out words of encouragement to them and Ikkei is seen with a proud look. As Karasuno reached match point, Ikkei points out how Tsukishima has been completely focused on following the ball by using read blocking.
Ikkei would continue to watch until Karasuno was able to win the match.
Tokyo Nationals Arc
After Hinata had crashed the First Year Training Camp, Ukai reveals the news to Takeda that Ikkei has been hospitalized once more though he is certain that his grandfather is not in critical condition.
Ikkei would later appear to watch the Karasuno vs Nekoma match from his hospital room with other patients and two of his young students. He beamed with pride when someone commented on how his grandson looked just like him. At the end of the match, he placed his hand out when Nekomata would shake hands with Keishin.
Ikkei's final appearance in the series comes when he is shown to be on a video chat with Nekomata while his grandson and Takeda are watching the Japan vs Argentina match on tv.
Despite his age, he can still play volleyball on par with high school students and flip his grandson over.
- Small Giant: Ikkei is said to have helped the Small Giant when he had been struggling against opponents who were able to block his attacks. Even at seeing how much the Small Giant grew in skill, Ikkei still looked out for his well being as he is at one point shown benching the Small Giant for appearing to be unwell.
- Shōyō Hinata: Hinata reminds Ikkei of the Small Giant, especially when he came to the coach to ask for help with his training; the Small Giant did the same thing in the past. During the summer, Ikkei taught Hinata how to use tempos in his attacks and helped develop Hinata and Kageyama's quick-strike by providing them with advice and a place to train.
- Karasuno High: Ikkei is both feared by and well respected among every member of Karasuno due to his excellent coaching and brutal practices. It's been years since they graduated, but Akiteru, Shimada, and Takinoue are still afraid of Ukai; Takinoue became terrified when he accidentally let it slip in front of Ukai that he used to slack off during practices.
- Keishin Ukai: Keishin is Ikkei's grandson who is also Karasuno's current coach. Although Ikkei treats his grandson roughly, such as flipping him through the air when he came for advice and arm wrestling with him, Ikkei cares for his grandson deeply and helps Keishin if he appears to be struggling with a new volleyball method. When Keishin was introduced as Karasuno's coach during the match against Nekoma, Ikkei beamed with pride when it was commented how much the two look alike.
- Yasufumi Nekomata: Ukai and Nekomata are longtime friends and rivals, both having met each other in middle school during a tournament. Since their youth, Ikkei and Nekomata have been competing with one another while building their friendship. Despite all his playful jabs at Nekomata and his coaching methods, Ikkei highly respects Nekomata and admits to his friend being a highly skilled coach and that he had trained his team well. The two have remained friends over the years.
- "Humans have no 'wings', so they search for ways to fly." (To Keishin Ukai, Volume 4 Chapter 30)
- "There is no greater toss than one which is easy for the spiker to hit." (To Hinata, Volume 10 Chapter 83)
- "Volleyball isn't a game where you 'carry' the ball. It's only touched for a mere fraction of a second. In that instance when you control it, the ball becomes like an extension of your body." (To Hinata, Volume 10 Chapter 84)
- "There's no such thing as a match you can definitely win or a match you'll win for sure." (Volume 12 Chapter 99)
- "The point of read blocking against a quick isn't always to stop the ball, but to touch it." (To Yachi, Season 3 Episode 9)
- "As a sport, volleyball is all about height. Of course tall players will have an advantage. Highly polished individual talent is one valid concept around which to build a team. A continually evolving offense of new tricks is another, equally valid concept. In fact, it is thanks to all the possible concepts out there that the game is as varied and diverse as it is today. The qualities that make a good team are truly many and multifaceted." (To himself, Season 3 Episode 10)
- Current Concern: The prospect of losing to his grandson at arm wrestling makes him feel slightly uneasy.
- It is speculated that he and Sugawara attended the same middle school, Nagamushi South.
- There are rumors that Ikkei keeps ferocious crows as pets.
- He tends to give people nicknames. When he first met Hinata, he nicknamed him "Small fry" which eventually developed to "shrimpy". "Shrimpy" eventually developed to "Shrimpo".
- Ukai (烏養) - Crow Nurturer
- Ikkei (一繋) - First Link
- Both Ikkei and Keishin Ukai have the kanji 繋 (link, to connect) in their given names. It's the same kanji used in Nekoma's motto 繋げ (Connect), possibly referencing their connection to Nekoma High.