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My weapon is reliability. But... I'm capable of new tricks too!

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 in order 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 answered 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 just before 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. Sugawara 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 when he crashed the First Year Training 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 game 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 any chances that arose.

Sugawara had always played as a setter and was the official setter at the start of his third year. 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.

Karasuno vs Aoba Johsai Practice Match

As Karasuno gets to Aoba Johsai’s campus, Sugawara stops multiple rude actions from his teammates. Despite this, he does not say anything as Kindaichi confronts Kageyama. During the match, however, Sugawara isn’t hesitant to step in Kageyama yelling at Hinata to stop being nervous. Near the end of the first set, Hinata messes up his serve and hits Kageyama’s head. Anxious for Kageyama’s reaction, Sugawara hopes that Kageyama doesn’t reproach Hinata in front of the other players. However, these hopes are shattered when Tanaka and Tsukishima both laugh at Kageyama.

During the second set, Takeda is still trying to understand more about volleyball, and finds out about the rotation system, which Sugawara confirms. After Karasuno wins that second set, Sugawara expresses his relief that Aoba Johsai doesn’t have a player as good as Kageyama on their team, to which the latter tells his teammates that the setter Aoba Johsai has currently been using probably isn’t their regular, which is when Oikawa appears. Before he serves, Sugawara notices that he points at Tsukishima, and when he actually does aim his serve at him, Sugawara remarks in shock that he had done a “declaration of intent” and that he controlled that serve to follow, or at least roughly, where he had wanted to serve. In a panic, he compares Oikawa’s serve to be even better than Kageyama’s.

As Yahaba sets for Kindaichi, Sugawara notices that this rally’s rotation has none of Karasuno’s particularly tall blockers, which worries him. However, Hinata proves him wrong when being fast enough to get his hand out to block Kindaichi. As the practice match ends with Karasuno’s victory, Takeda is amazed at Hinata and Kageyama’s quick set, and as the team goes over to him, Sugawara reminds Takeda to give them some criticism.

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The following day, Sugawara sought out Asahi Azumane to try to convince the ace to return to the team. Asahi attempted to turn down the offer until he ran into Kageyama and Hinata. After Asahi managed to leave, Sugawara is questioned by the first years about why Asahi left the team. He explains to them how Karasuno had relied on Asahi during matches but, during a previous tournament, the ace lost confidence in himself when all of his spikes were shut down. When Karasuno would play a practice match against the Neighborhood Association team, Sugawara happily welcomed Asahi back and played the setter for the Association team.

Karasuno vs Nekoma Practice Match

Before the match begins, Sugawara stops an attempt from Tanaka to fight Yamamoto. After the fact, Sugawara and Yaku both apologize for their teammates’ behaviors. Shortly after, during the match, Sugawara praises Tanaka for his good serve. Despite this, internally, Sugawara becomes wary of Fukunaga’s perfect pass. Shortly after, Sugawara explains to Takeda about the rotation rules for a libero, as well as habits for middle blockers.

During the second set, Sugawara sees that Hinata wants to try another technique in order to block Inuoka. When attempting to open his eyes for his quick set, Sugawara notices this and becomes surprised, which confuses Yamaguchi. Shortly after, Sugawara tells Daichi to stop putting pressure on Asahi, to whom the captain had attempted to motivate. Sometime later, Sugawara notices Kenma aiming at Hinata as he struggles with receives and has bad decision making when approaching them. Shortly after, Sugawara teaches Takeda about deuces, since Nekoma and Karasuno seem to be getting stuck into one.

After the match end, Yaku notices Nishinoya looking at him intensely. Noticing this, Sugawara apologizes for his behavior and tells the older libero to ignore Karasuno’s own. Abruptly, Nishinoya praises Yaku for his consistent digs and boldly claims to become a better libero than him one day. When Sugawara apologizes once more, Yaku admits to Nishinoya’s thirst to get better despite already being high-leveled to be frightening.

Interhigh Arc

Karasuno vs Date Tech

As Karasuno moves on to the second round, Ukai informs Karasuno that the lineup they will use will be the same one as when facing Tokonami, meaning that Kageyama will continue playing as the regular setter. Although he does not say anything, Sugawara is clearly upset. Soon after, Sugawara tells Hinata and Kageyama that he trusts them to win the match as it could especially hard on Asahi. During the warm-ups, NIshinoya does his rolling thunder move, and Sugawara wishes that he could’ve done a normal receive. As the game is about to start, Sugawara tells the team of his observations from their game three months earlier and some tactics they should try for better chances to win. A bit far into the first set, Michimiya notices Sugawara on the sidelines.

Sugawara mostly watches out for Asahi’s state as he faces Date Tech and seeing him not losing focus, Sugawara is motivated as well. When seeing Nishinoya manage a difficult save, he starts to tear up. He is impressed again when Hinata is used as a decoy for Asahi to breakthrough Date Tech’s defense as this means a lot to the both of them. Sugawara then motivates Asahi to score the game’s final point by cheering him on to try breaking through Date Tech’s defense again. Following Karasuno’s victory, Sugawara is glad that they managed to get their revenge and uncharacteristically slips that he would’ve liked to have Karasuno win with his setting, but Daichi is considerate about his feelings.

Karasuno vs Aoba Johsai

Sometime after Oikawa figures out Karasuno’s signal strategy, Sugawara approaches Hinata and tells him that they were about to change things up, however, they are quickly interrupted by the other players.

Sugawara is subbed into the match

During the next rally, Sugawara is subbed in for Kageyama as he wants a bit of change of pace. Even though Kageyama is clearly frustrated, he says nothing as he leaves the court. When Sugawara enters the court, he speculates that it must be hard for Hinata to watch his rival be beaten by someone else, but is quickly proven wrong when Hinata is beaning at the fact that he beat Kageyama. When the game continues, Ukai tells Kageyama to watch how his senior handles the game. Before playing, Sugawara high-fives his teammates and motivates them to win. Additionally, he tells Daichi that he’s been weirdly quiet for the team’s captain and that he shouldn’t be losing confidence. At this, Asahi and Tanaka are impressed at how Sugawara could lecture Daichi and get away unscathed. As this happens, some spectators are informed that Sugawara is a third-year and pity for him as he already got replaced by a rookie setter. In the next rally, Sugawara anticipates that the spikers would target him since his block would be the weakest, as he is shorter compared to his teammates, so, he has Tsukishima switch places with him right before Iwaizumi is about to spike.

After Karasuno wins the next rally, Sugawara tells himself that even though watching from the sidelines hurt, he isn't completely wasting his time since he is still observing the other players and getting an in-game mentality. When Sugawara is about to set for Hinata, Daichi remarks that not once Sugawara has given up, even if he is not playing, and that this whole time, he has been running through simulations of the game in his mind as he is still Karasuno’s other starting setter.

During the time-out to conclude the first set, Ukai notices that having Sugawara on the court can keep the team’s emotions in check, but that he can also throw off the opponents with his calm demeanor and skills. Sugawara admits that he was really afraid when going in the court, but knowing that Kageyama was there behind him, helped with his composure. During the game, Hinata is impressed at how supportive Sugawara is, and Ennoshita tells him that he’s also doing that to check his teammate’s mental position, to see how they would react, especially with someone like Tsukishima, who isn't very expressive. However, sometime after this, Aoba Johsai manages to win more and more points out of Sugawara. Sugawara feels pressured but tells himself not to fall for it since he wants to beat Aoba Johsai alongside Kageyama as setters.

Not long after, Ukai requests to talk with Kageyama and this tells Sugawara that he would only play one more rally until he would be subbed out. Seeing this, Asahi promises that he would score if he set to him in the upcoming rally, which he does, and Sugawara is subbed out. As he leaves the court, Sugawara acknowledges that Kageyama would be the one who could make the most out of the team, not him. During the next rally, Sugawara admits that Kageyama is probably better than him in terms of tournament games, as Sugawara has never been the team’s regular setter. Despite this, it still makes Sugawara happy when Kageyama is delighted to continue playing. When Hinata is about to get subbed in, Sugawara tells him to use his ‘width of the court’ attack. And when Yamaguchi is about to serve, Sugawara cheers him on.

Tokyo Expedition Arc

With Karasuno now out of the tournament, Sugawara and the other third years are faced with the decision of whether or not they should retire from the team. Hearing Daichi think it would be better for them to retire and let the younger players take over, Sugawara knows that this is not what Daichi really wants[7].

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When Sugawara made it clear to one of his teacher's that he would continue to stay on the team, Takeda is asked to speak with Sugawara and the others in order to make them understand that they should carefully think things over and not decide on impulse, especially since they have to consider the possibility of their choice affecting their futures. Because he does not want to regret anything several years from now, Sugawara sticks to his decision of staying on the team.

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Upon learning the team has been invited to attend the summer training camp in Tokyo held by the Fukurōdani Academy Group, Sugawara is initially excited about attending until the team learns that they will need to pass their upcoming exams in order to avoid supplementary lessons that would prevent those who failed from attending the camp. In order to help those who were struggling, Sugawara offered to help tutor them in their free time.

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.

During the camp at Shinzen High, Sugawara starts to notice that Tsukishima seemed to be struggling with staying interested in volleyball and brought his concern to Daichi. Sugawara not only found out that Daichi had noticed Tsukishima's dilemma as well but had thought it best to allow Tsukishima the room to figure things out for himself; although Daichi would state that he would enlist Sugawara's help in convincing Tsukishima to stay if he decided to leave. During the barbeque at the end of the camp, Sugawara can be seen spending time with Yaku.

Spring High Preliminary Arc

Karasuno vs Kakugawa

Sugawara is one of the first people to react to Hyakuzawa’s high reach over Karasuno’s triple block immediately in the first rally. Shortly after, Sugawara yells words of supports to Hinata as he enters a joust. As Karasuno figured how to get past Hyakuzawa's towering height, Karasuno eventually won the match.

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 Minami

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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.

Aoba Johsai vs Date Tech

Sugawara watches the match to find out which team Karasuno will be playing next. When Oikawa scores a service ace, he and Ennoshita conclude that Aoba Johsai is most likely going to win the match since Date Tech is all over the place at the moment being. Oikawa further proves his point when he scores a setter dump when Sugawara thought that he was being oddly inconspicuous that day.

Karasuno vs Aobajohsai

At the start of the match, Sugawara and the rest of the Karasuno players celebrate the numerous points that Karasuno was able to gain; although at one point he would question Asahi and Nishinoya being the most surprised of their attacking working. 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 receive 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

Sugawara yelling at the team to calm down

As Karasuno gets off the bus, Sugawara notices that Daichi has been crying in his sleep and teases his friend about it. The next day, Michimiya congratulates the boys’ team for making it to the finals and Sugawara pushes Asahi away as he is about to talk to her. Soon after, Daichi abruptly stops when he sees the old man that always cheers on those he thinks will win, which alarms Sugawara. Hearing this, Sugawara and the other third-years vow not to make him call them ‘has-beens’ again. When Asahi and Tanaka do not receive an enemy serve because of nervousness, Sugawara yells at them to calm down, however, he is just as nervous as them.

Sugawara is subbed in shortly after. As he serves, he aims for Ushijima, but his teammates quickly cover for him. Sugawara is subbed out the rally later when Tendō delays his spike to score. At this, Tendō is delighted, and he twitches in frustration. When Sugawara learns that Hinata had encountered Ushijima on the street, he is surprised at his underclassman continuously getting into all kinds of things with other schools. During the second set, Sugawara feels like Shiratorizawa is a team that logic and reason don’t seem to apply to. During the second set, Sugawara is subbed in once more and he and Kageyama pull their setter switching move in addition to Karasuno’s synchro attack. Near the end of the second set, Kageyama pulls a setter dump, treating Shirabu with a taste of his own medicine, and Sugawara expresses how overly competitive people can frighten him at times. After Tsukishima bocks Ushijima and wins Karasuno their first set, Sugawara apologizes to Yamaguchi for saying that the non-regulars could still put up a fight against Ushijima. Near the end of the third set, Sugawara gets angry at Ushijima for being so good at everything.

Shortly after, Sugawara, Yamaguchi, and Narita talk about how Ushijima confronted Hinata. Yamaguchi and Narita think that Ushijima was being too hard and that Hinata was just playing the victim, but Sugawara retaliates by telling them that anyone who would’ve been hurt by such comments would never have gotten as far as Hinata did. During Karasuno’s first time-out during the fourth set, Sugawara offers Kageyama to rest as he wants to play, however, Kageyama assures him that he’s fine. Despite this, Sugawara would soon be subbed in as pinch serve. Trying to understand this, Shimada speculates that Ukai probably wants to have Kageyama in to conclude the set. When Sugawara goes for his second serve, he aims at Reon, similarly to the previous rally, just like the rest of his teammates. By now, Reon had noticed that Karasuno has been continuously aiming at him, though he scoffs when he sees a weak serve coming from Sugawara. Nevertheless, when Shiratorizawa wins the fourth set, Sugawara is subbed in as setter for the final set.

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Despite wanting to play for the duration of the game, Sugawara is nervous as he is about to play fifteen or more straight rallies against Shiratorizawa. Seeing Sugawara being nervous, Kiyoko attempts to comfort him and Asahi tells his friend to toss the ball to him if he is even a little bit unsure. However, Sugawara is quite nervous in the game as he messes up his sets, and this is not remedied as Tendō taunts him. Despite Tendō’s taunts, Sugawara smiles at him and tells him that he genuinely trusts his hitters. Because Nishinoya is a libero, when Karasuno comes in for their synchronized attack and Nishinoya sets, it allows the entire team to go for the attack. Ultimately, Nishinoya sets to Sugawara and he scores. Nishinoya sets to Sugawara once more, but Tendō blocks him with a smile on his face, his eyes closed. Noticing this, Sugawara does not falter to pressure and tells Tendō to keep his eyes open as he’ll do something akin to this next time. Shortly after, Sugawara sets the ball over the net from across the court so that Shirabu would have to bump and wouldn’t be able to set. Later on, Tendō manages to block a recently subbed in Narita, however, Sugawara manages to cover for him.

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Following this, Sugawara calls for the team to do a synchronized attack as he hates doing setter dumps since he’s too afraid to mess up. Nishinoya sets to Sugawara, but Tendō blocks him with a smile on his face. Following this rally, Hinata remarks that Kageyama isn’t playing as setter and decides to go for a first tempo attack in order to sync with Sugawara. However, this is useless as Sugawara uses him as a decoy for Tanaka. As he prepares to block Goshiki, Sugawara knows that he can’t win but also sees Daichi behind him and trusts him to be able to dig Goshiki. Shortly after, Sugawara remarks that taking risks is the best way to improve and goes back up to hit. After this, he looks at his teammates cheer at their recently earned point and focuses on Hinata, glad that his underclassman taught him to have a strong mindset. Following this, Kageyama is subbed back in and Sugawara leaves the court. After Karasuno wins the game, Sugawara hugs Daichi and Asahi in tears.

Tokyo National Arc

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When the team is having their new height measurements done, Sugawara shows annoyance at several of the first years being so tall. 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[8]. 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 week.

When hearing Daichi and Asahi talk about Hinata and Kageyama wanting to stay in the gym to practice a bit more, Sugawara expresses his admiration at how motivated the two first years are but is amused when Daichi eventually forces the two to stop practicing.

Date Tech Practice Match

When Karasuno heads to Date Tech High for a practice match, Sugawara and a few others are not surprised to see that Date Tech is still as intimidating as ever. As the game starts, Sugawara is further intimidated at seeing Date Tech's improved blocking instantly shut down Asahi's first spike but also suspects that Kageyama was trying to get the better of the blockers from the get go. When Kageyama later called out Nishinoya on having unintentionally blocked the path of the back row attacker, Sugawara and many others were surprised at his sudden declaration but was further surprised when Nishinoya accepted his mistake and wasn't upset at the younger setter. As the set continues and Asahi accidentally sent a spike out of bounds, Sugawara takes notice of the ace seeming to be having an off day and overhears Kageyama demanding that Asahi start scoring.

At hearing Ennoshita suspect that Kageyama is still use to having been playing with other players at the All-Japan Youth Camp, Sugawara agrees with him to a certain point but also points out that Kageyama has never directly complained to his teammates about their performance; with Hinata being the one exception. When Karasuno eventually lost the first set and Kageyama expressed his anger at his teammates not being able to score from his sets, Tsukishima points out how the young setter has reverted back to his King of the Court personality but Hinata tries to figure out why Kageyama would be upset at having such a cool nickname. When Tanaka admits that he's not bothered by someone criticizing him and is more bothered with the tone they use, Sugawara is fairly surprised at his admission despite his normally short fuse.

As the second set begins, Sugawara sees how far Kageyama has grown since his time in middle school where his teammates at the time were the ones who most likely got him to begin understanding the possibility that he was the one who is wrong after receiving their harsh feedback. At the end of the set, despite losing, Sugawara is impressed to see that Tsukishima spiked from a higher point even though it landed out. He learns from Hinata that Tsukishima had been spiking at higher contact points during the training camp at Shiratorizawa because Koganegawa would accidentally set the ball higher than he meant to which caused Tsukishima to adjust in order to match it. When Sugawara mentions the growth development, Hinata misses where the setter meant this also applied to him and not just Tsukishima.

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In the eighth set, Sugawara notices that Tsukishima has possibly reached his limit when he misses a set and his exhaustion is apparent. When all of the matches are done and Karasuno is getting ready to depart, Sugawara is with Daichi and Asahi when Date Tech's retired third-years approach them and wish them good luck at nationals. When they part, Sugawara and Asahi continue to express how they think the Date Tech players are intimidating and points out to Daichi that Moniwa was the one who kept Aone and Futakuchi in line when Daichi said that Moniwa was the nice one.

Arriving in Tokyo

When meeting with the other third-years for New Years', Sugawara remarks how it would be their first year making a pilgrimage together. When hearing Sugawara not being composed as usual, Kiyoko understands that they must be nervous because of the upcoming tournament. Later on, Sugawara’s worries vanquish as he laughs about Asahi’s bad fortune. When Kiyoko expresses her belief in the team’s abilities, Sugawara, Asahi, and Daichi all get bewildered but soon realize that they should feel blessed.

A few days later, in Tokyo, Sugawara does passing drills with Hinata. When the rookie misses an overhand pass, Sugawara briefly tells him that it had been an easy one he could pull off. That night, Daichi asks Ennoshita to take care of the team while he’s gone, which offends Sugawara as he is the team's vice-captain. Despite this short incident, Sugawara is shown studying to keep his nerves calm as he claims keeping his schedule intact would help him feel better.

The next day, Sugawara makes a comment on how he thinks it’s strange seeing Tanaka being able to talk normally to a girl when he meets Kanoka again. Shortly after, he notices Kageyama talking to Komori and informs Nishinoya of an article he read that Komori had been listed as the nation’s top libero, which catches Nishinoya’s attention. Not long after, Karasuno joins the many others teams as the opening ceremony begins.

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 playfully kicks Kageyama[9].

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. 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 and discourages Asahi to sympathize with their ace when watching his attacks repeatedly get saved by Nekoma.

After that match concludes, Sugawara and the team watch Kamomedai’s match. When seeing Hoshiumi score point after point despite his height, Sugawara speculates that, although Hinata was never intimidated by players taller than him, players around his height who have managed to play at a higher level than he has must be shocking. When Hinata tells the team that he is glad to be at nationals, Sugawara tells himself that his worry had been unnecessary.

Shortly after, Karasuno briefly meets Nekoma and when Yaku expresses that he is glad they didn’t get sent home immediately, Sugawara sheepishly responds that Miyagi isn’t so far away.

Karasuno vs Inarizaki

Sugawara s4-e19-1.png

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[10]. 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 s4-e25-3.png

That night, Sugawara reunites with his team and await their match being mentioned on television. When Sugawara’s surprised face shows up on the screen, he is teased for his uncharacteristic expression. Later, he, Daichi, and Asahi are seen conversing about Kageyama’s autograph and Sugawara’s wishes to get one from the junior setter as soon as possible. Shortly after, when ranting about their juniors’ impressive performances, Sugawara admits to having cried.

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[11]. 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[12]. 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

As Karasuno’s match against Kamomedai is about to start, Ukai warns the team about their upcoming threats, and when Daichi tries to motivate the team, Sugawara chimes in to help him and congratulates Daichi once he makes the whole team marvel at the prospect of playing in the center court if Karasuno makes it to semi-finals. Not long after, the third years debate about what meal they would get for dinner and Asahi wins the debate of stating he wanted ginger fried pork. During the game, Hirugami is quick to score a blocking point, which is something that Yamaguchi is frustrated about but not surprised as they are facing “Hirugami the Immovable”. Then Sugawara takes a moment to think, repeating the “Immovable” nickname and Ennoshita notices that Sugawara likes the name.

Not long after, Tsukishima is able to block Hoshiumi, which results in Sugawara, Hinata, and Yamaguchi shaking back in forth in surprise and excitement. Later on, Kinoshita is subbed in as Karasuno’s pinch server, and, trying to cheer him on, Sugawara yells words of encouragement. At first, the serve seems to be effective but Kanbayashi manages to messily bump it, which surprises Sugawara. Right after when Hoshiumi is able to score impressively, Sugawara thinks to himself that it was strange since he thinks he was more scared when facing Shiratorizawa or Inarizaki but when facing Kamomedai, he was just feeling like he didn’t know how they were going to defeat them[13], Despite his concern, Sugawara still tries to motivate his team after hearing Hinata’s excitement to continue the match.

When Karasuno loses the first set, Tsukishima is exhausted at the idea that they'll have to play three sets again. Upon hearing this, Narita and Yamaguchi look at him silently until Sugawara slaps his back and is excited at the idea that Tsukishima is determined enough to already think about the third set and when he compares Tsukishima to Hinata. This sends Tsukishima into a depressed manner and Hinata finds Tsukishima's behavior of the comparison offensive. During the start of the second set, Sugawara recognizes that Karasuno isn’t completely playing badly but he just feels like they are trapped and it feels strangely claustrophobic. Ennoshita notices that Kageyama always makes his set look easy, but after pulling after an especially impressive one, he was making it look even easier. Sugawara then explains that it’s because he moved from standing right in front of the net to in the middle.

After Asahi gets blocked numerous times, Daichi tells him to wipe off his “end-of-the-world” face and that he can’t be expected to score one hundred times out of one hundred[14]. Sugawara joins in and says it would great if his teammate could become some sort of superhuman giant but not even Ushijima or Bokuto could be that great. Then, he slaps his back and tells him to stop being depressed.

Soon after, Tsukishima is benched for Sugawara. When he steps into the court, Sugawara announces that they are going to have ginger pork that evening as a reference to what the third years had been debating about earlier[15]. When he talks quickly to Kageyama right before his serve, Sugawara is reassured when learning that he isn’t worried about Asahi. When Kageyama sets for Asahi once more, he is finally able to score against Kamomedai and Sugawara breaks into laughter. For a third time, Asahi breaks through Kamomedai’s defenses after Sugawara sets to him by slamming the ball hard enough to make it fall behind the net after touching Hirugami’s arm.

Sugawara serves for the third time, but Kanbayashi manages to bump it. In the same rally, Hoshiumi aims the ball at Sugawara, who can barely bump it. After this, Sugawara is benched again and fist bumps Daichi and Asahi. When Hinata turns out to have a fever, Sugawara is angry at himself for not noticing earlier. When Hinata tearfully apologizes for not being able to take care of his health, Sugawara tries to cheer him up and references the ginger pork line he said when he was rotated in[16]. After this, the game resumes but soon Tsukishima gets a leg cramp and has to be removed from the game. Not knowing who to sub him in for, Sugawara stubbornly tells his coach not to worry about not picking him because he’s a third-year and in the end chooses Yamaguchi. After their loss, Sugawara hugs a tearful Yaku. Sometime later, Kageyama tells the team that even though they made it into the top 8, he still wanted to take the team farther, which shocks them. However, Sugawara tells him that it was impossible now that they’ve lost and starts crying[17].

After graduating, the third years retire from the team and are thanked by their juniors for all they did.

Final Arc

By November 2018, Sugawara has become an elementary school teacher in Miyagi[18]. Before the game between the MSBY Black Jackals and the Schweiden Adlers begins, Sugawara finds Asahi and Daichi. He proceeds to poke fun at Asahi by pretending to do a secret handshake and make it seem like Asahi forgot it but the former ace promptly calls him out on this. As the three finds seats, they spot Tanaka and Kiyoko and happily greet each other. During Kageyama's introduction, Sugawara becomes emotional and believes that he will cry to which Asahi offers him tissues. He soon joins others in hysterical laughter when Bokuto does his own introduction. Sugawara would then marvel at the sight of Kageyama holding onto one of the members of the junior league. When the starting players of the Adlers team begin throwing autographed volleyballs into the crowd, Sugawara excitedly calls for one as Asahi and Daichi try to convince him to let younger fans have them and that he can always meet with Kageyama after the game.

Like several others, Sugawara is taken back at the sight of Hinata receiving Kageyama's serve. After Hinata scores the first game point, Sugawara joins in others in welcoming Hinata back. After Hinata serves, Sugawara remembers back to the time when Hinata messed up his serve and hit Kageyama’s head during the practice match against Aoba Johsai. After a play in which Hinata attracted the attention of the Adlers to allow one of his own teammates to score. Sugawara is incredibly proud of how effective Hinata is as a decoy[19].

Near the end of the third set, Sugawara and the others come to the realization that Ushijima has improved the swing of his spike in order to make it even more powerful than it was before. When the Jackals won the match, Sugawara is seen tearfully celebrating and later is spotted by Kageyama in his line for autographs.

In 2021, Sugawara and Daichi meet with Tanaka and Kiyoko to watch the Olympic match between Argentina and Japan. Just before the game, they receive a photo of Asahi and Nishinoya traveling through Egypt.

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[20].
  • 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[21].
  • 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. Sugawara is also supportive of Daichi's decisions and likes to subtly tease him about Michimiya having feelings for him, though Daichi doesn't seem to notice this. Additionally, their good relationship comes from having spent their first year together, where Sugawara admired Daichi for his leadership even at that time.
  • 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. Sugawara gives Asahi great support when he resumes his position as the team ace and never falters in his belief of the ace's abilities and strength; even going so far as to dub Asahi's block-out attack as the "Block Crusher". Twice when Sugawara was about to get subbed out, he notified the ace that he was going to toss to him and assured Asahi that he would be able to score after this, which succeeded to put his spirits up both times.
  • 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. Despite Sugawara being stuck on the bench because of Kageyama, Sugawara doesn't hold a grudge against him. Additionally, when Kageyama is subbed out at times, Sugawara still checks up to see how he's dealing with having to be replaced, even if it is for short amounts of time. However, when Kageyama and Sugawara are on the court together, they prove to show great teamwork.
  • Shōyō Hinata:
    Hinata and Sugawara s1-e3-1.png
    Sugawara is very supportive of the younger middle blocker. Since they first met, Sugawara has seen how Hinata is always striving to move forward and get stronger which has inspired both himself and their fellow teammates. Sugawara has assisted Hinata in trying to better his receives and also helped him with learning hand signals that they would later use during matches. The two are shown to work very well together with Sugawara always praising Hinata's hard work and even internally thanking him for inspiring him to move forward even more than Sugawara already does.
  • Yū Nishinoya: In the Shiratorizawa match, Sugawara and Nishinoya demonstrated great teamwork during Karasuno's synchro attack, and it even made Kageyama admit that he wouldn't have been able to be so in sync with the other players as they did, apart from Hinata of course. Additionally, Nishinoya and Sugawara are shown to be supportive of their teammates, and mostly Asahi, because of his lack of confidence in his abilities.
  • Kei Tsukishima:
    Sugawara and Tsukishima s1-e21-1.png
    Sugawara seems to be one of the people most looking for and being proud of Tsukishima's development. He is often seen pushing Tsukishima forward and looking for cracks in his character. When he didn't quite understand his kouhai back in their first tournament match against Aoba Johsai, he tried to interact with him as much as possible to better know Tsukishima. All the way to the Kamomedai match, Sugawara was delighted when hearing Tsukishima 'looking forward' a third set after Karasuno lost the first one and even compared him to Hinata.
  • Ryūnosuke Tanaka: Similar to Nishinoya, Sugawara works and gets along well with Tanaka although he can sometimes be overwhelmed by Tanaka's rough and loud behavior. Often times, Sugawara is one of those who tends to keep Tanaka in line, especially when he appears like he is trying to pick a fight with someone.
  • Kiyoko Shimizu: Like several other boys, Sugawara finds Kiyoko very beautiful and at times becomes fluster around her; such as when she held his hands when he was nervous during the match against Shiratorizawa. However, he does not actively try to seek her interest like Tanaka and Nishinoya. Sugawara highly respects Kiyoko as the team manager and a friend.

Nekoma High

  • Morisuke Yaku:
    Sugawara Yaku s1 e13.png
    Yaku and Sugawara have similar personality types and take care of their teams in similar manners. They are also seen conversing in a friendly manner on multiple occasions. The two first met during the Nekoma vs Karasuno practice match when Taketora and Tanaka were causing trouble and Sugawara and Yaku apologized to each other for their teammates and soon bonded over their similar positions of being caretakers for their teams.

Quotes

  • "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 [Kageyama] got my back. I feel really confident." (To Kageyama, Volume 7 Chapter 55 / Season 1 Episode 21)
  • "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." (To Kageyama, Volume 7 Chapter 55 / Season 1 Episode 21)
  • "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." (To himself, Volume 7 Chapter 57 / Season 1 Episode 21)
  • "[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)
  • "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." (To Yamaguchi about Kageyama, Volume 7 Chapter 58 / Season 1 Episode 22)

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[22].
  • 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”."[23]
  • In Haikyuu's first popularity poll, Sugawara placed in 4th with 5,568 votes[24]. In the second, he placed higher at 2nd with 11,254 votes[25].
  • In 2015 Haikyuu! Matsuri event Sugawara was voted the “Best Dresser” of the cast, something his Japanese voice actor is also known for.
  • Nomenclature:
    • Kōshi (孝支) - Supporting One's Elders
    • Sugawara (菅原) - Sedge Plain

References

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