"Upperclassman's Strength" (Japanese: 先輩 (せんぱい) ”の実力 (じつりょく) "Senpai" no Jitsuryoku) is the fifty-fourth chapter of the Haikyū!! series written and illustrated by Haruichi Furudate. It was published in the 17th issue of Weekly Shōnen Jump’s 2013 series.


Sugawara switches with Kageyama in order to change the flow of the game for a bit. Feeling inferior to Kageyama due to the latter's incredible skill as a setter, he mainly gives his all in order to fight alongside the team who he believes is strong. Will Kageyama realize something just by watching his senpai?


Sugawara steps into court after Kageyama and hits them on the head, side, chest and gives Nishinoya a high-five and cheers the members up by telling them that they will break Aoba Johsai's scoring streak. The team is touched by Sugawara's actions and words.

Outside of the court, Hinata stares at Kageyama. Irked, Kageyama questions him to which Hinata tells him that his face is scary but Kageyama rebuts, saying that he was born with his face. Hinata adds on, saying how irritated he gets and how he does not speak much and that he should speak out his thoughts. Kageyama is confused and confirms whether he had been voicing out his thoughts but Hinata replies with a strong 'no'. Kageyama's mood immediately shifts to a depressed state as Hinata just had to be the one who points out his slump.

Back on the court, Tanaka and Asahi note how Sugawara is the only one in the team who could lecture Sawamura as Sugawara tells Sawamura that he had not been advising on the court as he usually does and asks him what would happen to the team with the captain who lost his composure. A few spectators check up on Sugawara's information and realise that he is a third-year but a non-regular. What was shocking to them was that Kageyama, a first-year, had been playing since the start of the match and pity Sugawara. Shimada and Takinoue pray for the team to stop Aoba Johsai's momentum.

Focusing on the match, Oikawa states that based on the practice match they had before, Sugawara is a basic setter whose skills, compared to Kageyama's, is unfantastic. Oikawa whispers to Iwaizumi to spike at Sugawara as he lacks height. The match begins with Hanamaki serving and Sawamura receives the ball and passes it to Sugawara who pulls off a parallel toss to Tanaka. However, as Tanaka spikes, Watari receives the ball and Iwaizumi takes the chance to spike at Sugawara as Oikawa sets to him. Right before Iwaizumi spikes, Oikawa realises that Sugawara and Tsukishima swapped places but calls out too late as Iwaizumi is blocked out.

Sugawara praises Tsukishima for the block and tells him that since he is short, he is often targeted and hoped that Aoba Johsai would be the same case. Hinata comes in after Nishinoya goes out and Sugawara calls him over to tell him something. Tsukishima serves next, but the ball is received by Kunimi which goes straight to Oikawa who tosses the ball to Matsukawa. Hinata jumps and blocks him out, surprised. Sugawara praises Hinata and Hinata tells him that his advice on blocking them worked. Irihata notes that Sugawara holds more composure than the other players on the court and even though he was not playing before, it helped his current performance. Yamaguchi is amazed by Hinata but Nishinoya tells him that Sugawara's instructions to Hinata helped him which shift Yamaguchi amazement to Sugawara.

Keishin glances at Kageyama and Takeda tells him that Kageyama would be fine and speaks out Keishin's thoughts exactly as Takeda states that he was most likely worried that Kageyama would be upset from being benched. Takeda adds on by saying that Kageyama's other factor stronger than his pride is his desire to improve.

As the Karasuno members position themselves on court, Sugawara signs to Hinata. A flashback occurs, showing Sugawara giving Hinata notes on his hand signals. As the match continues, Iwaizumi spikes but Sawamura receives the ball and passes it Sugawara. Matsukawa and Iwaizumi panic when Hinata runs towards the net but Oikawa was quick enough to remind them that without Kageyama, there would be no 'quick-attacks'. Unfortunately, they were unable to block out Hinata as he scores a point. Sugawara ends of the chapter with a small narration, telling us that even if he was inferior to Kageyama in technical and physical ability but had more time watching matches from outside the court and says that Karasuno is a strong team.


Chapter notes

Character revelations

  • Sugawara is often targeted by spikers from the other teams due to him being a short blocker.


  • This chapter is Sugawara’s first official match as setter since being replaced by Kageyama.
  • Again, in commemoration of the sale of the fifth volume, a center color page of Sugawara with a hand signal behind his back.


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List of Chapters
Karasuno High Team Formation Arc
Interhigh Arc
Tokyo Expedition Arc
Spring High Preliminary Arc
Tokyo Nationals Arc
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Final Arc
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