My weapon is dependability.

Kōshi Sugawara (Japanese: 菅原 (すがわら) 孝支 (こうし) Sugawara Kōshi) was previously a third-year at Karasuno High School; for the majority of the series, he was the vice-captain and substitute setter for the volleyball team.

As of 2018, he is an Elementary School teacher in Miyagi.

Appearance

Sugawara is shown to be average in height with a slender build. He has slightly thick eyebrows, light grey hair and hazel-brown eyes with a birthmark mole under his left eye. He is usually seen with a gentle smile on his face.

Personality

Being the vice-captain, he has a soothing and gentle personality for his teammates and acts as a pillar of support for them. Even though he isn't Karasuno's regular setter anymore, he does not dream of giving up on playing. As such, he encourages himself and all of his teammates to never give up, no matter how rough the situation might be.

Sugawara's dedication to volleyball is clear when he decides to continue club activities even when most third years choose to retire to focus on their futures. In a meeting, his teacher asked Sugawara why he's so determined to continue playing even though he's not a starting member, and Sugawara replied that he doesn't want to have regrets in the future.

He is also quite perceptive as he noticed how Tanaka asked for the key to the gym (back during the first years' 3-on-3 match) even though he always comes in late. He is also intelligent as he can come up with helpful tactics during games that his team members can use. An example of this is when he came up with the idea of saying "bring it" and "send it to me" for Kageyama and Hinata's combo. Suga also came up with the hand signals overnight while his teammates were all sleeping.

Despite his nurturing behavior, he is sometimes mischievous, as seen from how he supports Hinata to barge into the Youth Camp uninvited. He also tends to get violent when he teases his teammates, often smacking them around when he's excited to join the game, although this does have the effect of cheering up the team as well.

He is also rather proud, although it is very rarely shown. Notable examples are when he said: "Kageyama, from here on out if you start getting bombarded by interviews, you're gonna say 'I learned everything from a magnificent senpai called Sugawara', got it?", and when he bragged about how he came up with the name of Kageyama and Hinata's new technique 'Back Minus'. During the battle with Shiratorizawa, he was so irritated by the loss of their team that he started rambling and pouting, which is very unlike his usual mature demeanor.

Background

Coming from Nagamushi Junior High, Sugawara joined the volleyball club during his first year with Daichi and Asahi[2]. The three of them were excited to join Karasuno, a school that performed well in the recent nationals. However, they quickly found that reality differed from their expectations. The club lacked a proper coach and couldn't organize practice matches due to their lackluster performances. Everything seems lost until the first years decided to do extra practice under Daichi's leadership. The team made some progress and became fired up to go to nationals once again. The first years were particularly excited when the Miyagi Prefecture's Interhigh Qualifiers began, but they were quickly disappointed when Karasuno got knocked out early in the second round. Later, Sugawara, Daichi, and Asahi listened to their previous captain, Tashiro telling them to take advantage of chances if an opportunity ever arose.

Sugawara had always played as a setter, though his third year is the first he was listed as starting setter. During the Aoba Johsai High match of Interhigh, Sugawara mentions that despite being on the team for three years he has played in very few official matches due to Karasuno having other setters. Kageyama has likely played more games in his first year[3].

Plot

Karasuno High Team Formation Arc

Sugawara goes with Daichi and Tanaka to the junior high tournament to watch the “King of the Upper Court”[4]. A year later, Sugawara enters the Karasuno gymnasium alongside Daichi and Tanaka to greet the new members of the club: the same players they’d watched in the tournament.

Sugawara approaches Kageyama and remarks that he’s grown taller. Suddenly, Tanaka points out Hinata as the shorty from last year, surprising Sugawara. The third-year compliments Hinata for his jumps and encourages Hinata’s goal of becoming the ace. However, Kageyama quickly criticizes Hinata for it, leading to a small fight that gains the vice principal’s attention. Sugawara and Daichi try to show the vice principal that nothing’s going on, but to no avail as the two first years challenge each other to a mini-match.

The mini-match accumulates with the two knocking the vice principal’s wig off his head and onto Daichi’s head. Sugawara calls out to him in concern before yelling at Tanaka to shut up. Daichi goes outside with the vice principal as Sugawara stares after him. A few minutes later, Daichi returns and rounds everyone up. Sugawara gets scared when he realizes that Daichi’s angry. Daichi gives a small speech to the members as they stand there silently before throwing the two first years out.

The two start pounding on the closed doors as Sugawara turns to Daichi and asks him if he’s sure about this. However, his doubts are cleared when he hears the two arguing outside.

3-on-3 First Years Match

During a break in practice, Sugawara talks to Tanaka and notes that it’ll be good if the two first years can properly reflect on what they did, even if it’s just a little bit. Daichi adds that Kageyama needs to change his selfish playing style first. Suddenly, they hear the first years call Daichi and Tanaka opens the door to see them still standing there.

Together, they challenge the third years to a match. Daichi changes it to a three-on-three against the other first years and proposes a punishment that if Kageyama loses, he can’t play setter as long as the third years are around. Kageyama reluctantly accepts and as the third years return to practice, Sugawara watches him with sympathy.

After the first years leave, Sugawara asks Daichi if he’s being too tough on them. Daichi explains that he needs the two to get along well because they have the potential to form an incredible team. Later that evening, Tanaka asks for the keys to the gym and a suspicious Sugawara deduces instantly that Tanaka’s planning something with the first years.

The next morning[5], Sugawara comes in early and surprises the underclassmen. He keeps the practice a secret from Daichi though and helps Hinata practice while Kageyama practices with Tanaka. Hinata asks Kageyama for a toss, but the latter adamantly refuses even as Sugawara lightly scolds him.

Sugawara helps Hinata with his receives

Later that day, Sugawara practices tossing with Hinata during the lunch break and asks him about his junior high. Hinata reveals the troubles he went through and Sugawara tries to motivate him, but Hinata insists that he wants a toss from Kageyama. Sugawara asks if Hinata sees Kageyama as the strongest enemy. After Hinata reluctantly confirms it, Sugawara reminds him that Kageyama is now his strongest ally so they need to learn to play together.

During practice, Sugawara watches Hinata and Kageyama working together and remark to Tanaka that to receive a toss from a setter is normal for them, but for Hinata, it’s a privilege. Sugawara also notices that Kageyama has changed significantly since junior high, especially when it comes to his confidence in himself.

On the day of the 3-on-3 match, though Sugawara doesn’t play, he watches his teammates and observes the underclassmen’s skills. As Kageyama displays his true skills, Sugawara watches enviously and notes that Kageyama’s truly amazing.

When the two first years try out a quick strike and it fails, Sugawara steps in between their argument with each other and points out that Kageyama’s acting like he’d during junior high. He notes that Hinata may not have the technique or experience needed, but he has the physical ability. Kageyama has the skills to utilize Hinata’s abilities to the fullest potential. As he says this, Sugawara acknowledges that he doesn’t have the same skills so for someone like Kageyama, he should take advantage of what he has[6].

After the match ends in Kageyama and Hinata’s favor, Sugawara stands off to the side with Daichi. Tanaka approaches them and asks if they’d planned for the two first years to get along like this. The two deny it and Sugawara adds that it wasn’t Hinata who matched Kageyama’s toss, but rather Kageyama who matched to the spiker.

As the first years are officially welcomed into the club, Daichi goes to Sugawara and Tanaka and thanks them for making things work. Sugawara tries to deny it, but Daichi implies that he knew about their secret practices. In return, Sugawara compliments Daichi for his work.

Interhigh Arc

Sugawara is subbed into the match

Sugawara only plays once in the Interhigh match, and that was when Kageyama was subbed out. He comforts the first-year setter by saying that this was a chance for him to cool his head. Coach Ukai later tells Kageyama in the background to watch his senpai play, and take note of what he does. When Sugawara steps onto the court, he is able to cheer his teammates up with a bright smile and words of encouragement. Despite not spending much time on the court, he was able to help Karasuno gain more points by being about to point out what tactics their opponents could use, as well as advising his teammates.

Tokyo Expedition Arc

Sugawara joins the team in attending the training camps held by the Fukurōdani Academy group. During the first camp at Nekoma High, Sugawara plays as the setter for most of the day as Kageyama had to stay at school to take make-up exams. The next day when Hinata tells Kageyama that he wants to change the quick attack, Sugawara tries to keep the two first years calm but is shown to side more with Kageyama about the quick attack not needing to be changed. Sugawara later changes his view on this when most of the team decide that they will need to try new things in order to get stronger and be able to have a fighting chance against the stronger teams. He would help Nishinoya learn to set when the libero decided to learn jump sets and Sugawara would also take part in the team learning the synchronized attack.

Spring High Preliminary Arc

Karasuno vs Johzenji

Sugawara's first time playing during the Interhigh qualifier tournament is during the match against Johzenji High. When Kageyama tries to block one of Johzenji's spikers, he is accidentally hurt when the ball hit his face and he got a nosebleed as a result. Kageyama was taken out of the game in order to recover and Sugawara was sent in to cover the setter position but would not be on the court for very long. While on the court, he and Narita were noted to work very well together.

Karasuno vs Wakutani

Sugawara mostly supports the team during the early part of the match. However, he would be among those showing great concern when Daichi was rendered unconscious when he and Tanaka accidentally collided. Sugawara would confess his certainty of Ennoshita being the one most fit to become the next captain due to seeing that the second year was very dependable and was able to work with others easily. Upon Daichi's return to the team, Sugawara playfully punched him while welcoming him back.

Karasuno vs Aobajohsai

When all of Aoba Johsai and Kyōtani prove to be extremely difficult during the second set of the match, Sugawara is sent into the match and secretly informs Kageyama of a plan before serving. Sugawara quickly becomes a problem to Aoba Johsai when he begins aiming his serves at Kyōtani and forcing the second year to receiving which would cause him to be late to make an attack. After his second serve, Sugawara and Kageyama switch positions, allowing Kageyama to move to offense and join a synchronized attack. Sugawara sets to Kageyama and the first year was able to successfully land a straight shot.

However, Aoba Johsai would prove their capability to quickly adapt and figured out a way to keep Kyōtani from making the first receive and thus end Sugawara's time on the court. Sugawara later returns to the court near the end of the third set and deploys his same serving tactics as he did in the second set but this time he is aiming at Iwaizumi and is able to keep the ace in check for several serves. After his third serve is able to keep Iwaizumi from attacking, Sugawara and Kageyama again switch positions. Although Aoba Johsai is able to counter and the two teams continue to return the ball several times, Karasuno is eventually able to take the win and advance to the finals.

Karasuno vs Shiratorizawa

Tokyo National Arc

When the team is measuring their spiking height, Sugawara is amused to point out that Hinata has the same spiking height as Asahi. Like the others, Sugawara is surprised when learning that Kageyama was invited to the All-Japan Youth Camp but would tell Kageyama that, if he was ever interviewed, to say that he learned everything from his upperclassman[7]. Upon learning that Hinata had crashed the First Year training camp at Shiratorizawa Academy, Sugawara supports Hinata's decision. Since Kageyama would be at the youth camp, Sugawara would be the team's setter for the time being. During the practice match against Date Tech, Sugawara was able to tell that most of the first years were working through certain things and that Hinata and Kageyama have gone through changes during their time away at their respective camps.

Karasuno vs Tsubakihara

As their first match is about to begin, Sugawara notices his nervous trait of his hands getting cold kicks in. At seeing how calm Kageyama is at such a time, Sugawara questions the first year on why he is not nervous. Though Kageyama admits that he is nervous, he believes that this match is just the first stepping stone in them advancing toward their goal. At hearing his junior's wisdom, Sugawara kicks Kageyama[8]. When Karasuno reached match point, Sugawara is subbed in. Using his normal serving tactic, Sugawara was able to keep Tsubakihara's setter from moving by aiming for a difficult area. During the rally, he is most cautious of Maruyama and Teradomari; knowing that Maruyama can pull off feint shots and Teradomari is more powerful than he appears to possess. After Sugawara is able to save a ball that heads out of the court, Asahi is able to gain the final point of the match. After the game, Sugawara, Asahi, and Daichi reunite with their former captain's Tashiro and Kurokawa where they discuss the talented first years and receive encouragement to continue moving forward in the tournament. Sugawara accompanies the team to watch Nekoma's match against Kiyokawa High.

Karasuno vs Inarizaki

Sugawara mostly supports the team from the sidelines. He is subbed into the game during the second set, determined to make an impact on the match regardless of how short his time on the court will be. He aims his serve to Aran with the intention of getting the ace to drop to one or both knees in order to make him late to attack. While he was able to get Aran to lunge to make the receive, the Inarizaki ace was still able to repeatedly attack and Sugawara's serve is eventually cut off. In the third set, Kinoshita is subbed in as a pinch server and Sugawara tries to encourage the second year by telling him to score ten points. Sadly, Kinoshita's serve was stopped right away and Sugawara tried to comfort his teammate afterwards. Upon seeing Hinata make a perfect receive on Aran's spike, Sugawara is among those showing great surprise and support[9]. Despite Hinata's amazing receive on Aran's spike, Inarizaki is able to still gain the point and dampen Karasuno's spirits. When Hinata is able to bring them out of this slump, Sugawara is moved by how Hinata is always moving forward regardless of any obstacles in his path. When Karasuno reached match point and Hinata was able to buy the team time to calm down with a high receive, Sugawara remembers how Hinata use to want to do nothing but jumps and spikes and starts to get emotional at seeing how far Hinata has come since then. Karasuno went on to win the match and Sugawara is seen happily embracing Hinata and Kageyama.

Karasuno vs Nekoma

When Karasuno gains the first point in the fated match against Nekoma, Sugawara is shown with one of his most expressive faces. When Nekoma performs the synchronized attack, Sugawara, like many others, is completely caught off guard by it but was still impressed when Kuroo was able to stop Daichi's spike[10]. He would urge Tsukishima not to lose against Kuroo when it came to blocking and his fired up behavior is noticed by Kuroo and Yamamoto; to which Yamamoto states that he has never seen Sugawara act in this manner before. Later in the first set when Asahi is faced with a perfected ground defense and a double block before him, he performs a block-out that Sugawara dubs 'Block Crusher'. When Karasuno lost the first set due to a communication error, Sugawara has an expression of surprise and confusion. Just before the second set begins, Sugawara is among one of those who have figured out that Nekoma is purposely targeting Hinata much like what Karasuno had done to Aran.

Sugawara is eventually subbed into the match near the end of the second set when Tsukishima is up to serve. He tried to keep the team optimistic about not letting the game end after just two sets. After serving, Sugawara and Kageyama deploy their tactic of switching positions. Although Sugawara initially wants to use Hinata for the synchronized attack, he feels Lev's presence waiting at the net and is frightened enough to switch to Kageyama[11]. He is eventually subbed back out when Lev was able to block Tanaka's spike. When Nekoma sends Inuoka into the game to help Lev try to contain Hinata, Sugawara expresses his annoyance; stating that Nekoma's ground defense was already at a high level and they were now doing the same to their blocks. He later joins in celebrating Karasuno winning the second set of the match when Hinata was able to score the winning set point. In the third set, Sugawara is subbed in to serve once more and forces Fukunaga to make the receive but would be subbed out sometime during Inuoka being sent back into the game. When Karasuno wins, Sugawara and Yaku are seen playfully interacting before he joins Daichi and Asahi in leaving the court.

Karasuno vs Kamomedai

Final Arc

Statistics 

High School Statistics
Power
 
2/5
Jumping
 
2/5
Stamina
 
2/5
Game Sense
 
4/5
Technique
 
4/5
Speed
 
2/5

While on the sidelines, Sugawara pays close attention to the way the other team plays, often able to give his teammates advice on how to beat the other team. On the off-chance that Sugawara is put in the game, he can carry over what he learned from watching on the sidelines to rally the team and score a few points. However, he quickly gets stressed out by the heat of the game and starts to over-think things too much.

Because Sugawara rarely plays in official matches, he's an unknown element. When he is called into games, the other teams, who may have had time to study up on the usual starting line up, don't typically know what to expect from Sugawara, thus working to Karasuno's advantage.

Height and reach, as of mid-November:

  • Fingertip Height: 222 cm
  • Jumping Reach: 299 cm (spike) / 285 cm (block)

Skills

  • Synchronized Attack: Since the summer training camp arc, Sugawara has been mostly responsible for the team's synchronized attacks. He also practiced spiking during that time and now uses that to confuse opponents in matches. In the final set of the final match against Shiratorizawa, he joins in with the rest of his team for several all-in synchronized attacks off of Yū Nishinoya's overhand tosses[12].
  • Pinch Serves: Sugawara is often subbed in to serve in place of Hinata or Tsukishima. He isn't capable of performing a powerful spike serve or a jump floater, but he is particularly good at aiming toward difficult spots for opponents to receive through the use of a float serve. He has frequently used float serves to force opponents' spikers, such as Kentarō Kyōtani, to receive, thus slowing them down and making them unable to spike[13].
  • Calculated One-Point Two-Setter: A synchronized attack with Sugawara as the setter and Kageyama as a spiker, giving Karasuno five (as opposed to four) available spikers.

Relationships

Karasuno High

  • Daichi Sawamura:
    DaichiSuga.png
    The two are shown to be very close to each other, especially with their Captain and Vice-Captain relationship. They are often seen interacting in regards to decisions for the team and are usually the ones Coach Ukai comes to when having to deal with the team. Daichi and Sugawara are currently classmates in their third year.
  • Asahi Azumane:
    AsahiSuga.png
    Asahi is also a third-year and is shown to be very in-sync with Sugawara on the court. Coach Ukai commented on their setter-spiker relationship as something that's been "built over time". The two's relationship was a little murky after the loss against Date Tech High (as seen in Chapter 20), but after a match with the Neighborhood Association, they patched things up.
  • Tobio Kageyama:
    Sugawara x kageyama.png
    Sugawara acknowledges Kageyama's ability, calling him a "talented first-year setter", but is still unwilling to "give up" the position of the setter to him. He does, however, let Coach Ukai understand that his feelings will not be hurt if he isn't playing as a regular, and he continues to treat Kageyama as a junior that he could both teach (especially in regards to interacting with the team) and learn from. Sugawara is also shown to be Kageyama's "handler", mostly in the early chapters where he's given the task to calm Kageyama down.
  • Yui Michimiya: While never explicitly mentioned, it is possible that Sugawara is aware of Michimiya's feelings toward Daichi, as seen when Michimiya gives Daichi a success charm for Karasuno's match against Shiratorizawa (and Sugawara moves the team away from the two with a sort of smirk or smile on his face).


Nekoma High

  • Morisuke Yaku:
    Morisuke Yaku (Anime).png
    Yaku and Sugawara have similar personality types, and are seen conversing in a friendly manner on multiple occasions. They first met during the Nekoma vs Karasuno practice match when Taketora and Tanaka were causing trouble. Sugawara and Yaku apologized to each other for their teammates and soon bonded over their similar positions of being caretakers for their teams.


Quotes

Daichi, you're not being as loud as usual. A captain can't lose his composure!
If it were just me against Aoba Johsai, I wouldn't stand a chance, but my teammates are plenty strong.
But now that I'm on the court, the enemies are giants, and their spikes are directed right at me. Honestly, it scares me. Before, I would have let it affect me, but now, you've [Tobio] got my back. I feel really confident.
The points we get when I'm on the court, and the points we get when you're [Kageyama] on the court -all together, they're points for Karasuno.
I'll fight my best, and you'll [Kageyama] fight your best. That's how we're going to defeat Seijoh!
Slowly, I feel like I'm being strangled. Yet, strangely, I feel calm because panic hasn't affected my concentration just yet. That's because our goal is so clear in front of us.
[I want to be in the game.] I want to stay here longer. I want to stay with these guys. [Give me the thrill of the court.] I want to fight with these guys longer. [Let me feel out of breath.] Let me stand here. [I want to touch the ball. I want to fight.] I want to throw up a toss with my own hands over and over. Then, we'll [Karasuno] win the match that's right in front of us!
Sugawara and Kageyama's dual monologue, Volume 7 Chapter 57/ Season 1 Episode 21
It's a bit frustrating, but Hinata's face when he hits my toss isn't the same as when he hits your [Kageyama] toss.
I think you [Kageyama] know this, but all of our [Karasuno's] guys are really strong.
Every player feels the same pride about the fact that they're going to be on the court, no matter whether they're some genius or just a regular guy.
Sensei, I don't play volleyball for merit.
To a teacher during their discussion about Sugawara's future, Volume 8 Chapter 71/ Season 1 Episode 25


Trivia

  • Favorite Food: Super spicy mapo tofu
  • Current Concern: A lot of his juniors are taller than him.
  • Sugawara wears white gym shoes with blue/green accents.
  • He went to Nagamushi Junior High.
  • He is the oldest member of the team.
  • He is enrolled in a college prep class, along with Daichi.[14]
  • His star sign is Gemini.
  • He, along with Daichi and Asahi, forms a set. His jersey number (2) is symbolic of his position as a setter, as a toss is usually the second contact in volleyball.
  • Furudate wrote that he got Sugawara's name when "At my previous workplace, I had a senpai who got called “Suga-san”. I somehow really liked the way that sounds. I named him Sugawara to be able to call him “Suga-san”."[15]
  • In Haikyuu's first popularity poll, Sugawara placed in 4th with 5,568 votes.[16] In the second, he placed higher at 2nd with 11,254 votes.[17]
  • Nomenclature:
    • Kōshi (孝支) - Supporting One's Elders
    • Sugawara (菅原) - Sedge Plain

References

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