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Haikyuu!! – Episode 18: Guarding Your Back

Karasuno has Dateko on the ropes but the Iron Wall doesn’t look like it’s ready to break any time soon. Ukai knows that Karasuno can’t risk a 3-game match after showing all of their cards in the first game. So he takes a gamble to win the second game. The only tricky part about this gamble is that it depends on the other players to go up against Dateko’s best blocker.

Karasuno won the first game using Hinata as a decoy after the Freak Quicks set Dateko on their heels. However, Aone (the big blocker from Dateko) has started to be able to touch Hinata’s quicks. After their experience with Nekoma, Ukai knows that they can’t let Aone start to get used to the quicks. To prevent that from happening, he rotates Hinata in the rotation so that he starts in the back. This will keep him away from Aone, but it means that Tsukishima and Asahi will be matched up against him more.

Asahi has worked himself up for the challenge and is looking to prove himself as the ace. However, Tsukishima seems to feel a litle less pressure about the match-up. Even though he knows no one is expecting him to win he seems to be content to work in the shadows as Hinata continues to shine bright. An interesting contrast to most of the other players, Tsukishima almost sounds like he’s making an effort to stay covered by Hinata.

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The action continues and is tense throughout the entire second game. Each team is able to freely use its strengths with Hinata and Aone away from each other. However, Karasuno has the advantage of having Tsukishima and Asahi available to block Aone’s attacks. The game comes down to a final rally where Hinata isn’t on the court and Karasuno only needs one point to win. Asahi’s first attack is blocked and the return comes to close to the net resulting in a joust between Aone and Asahi. Aone wins the ball and looks like he’s going to score a point but Nishinoya reacts. In what had to be the play of the game, Nishinoya uses his foot to keep the ball in play, and gives Asahi another run at the ball. Kageyama remembers some advice Sugawara gave him about Asahi and lofts a serve for him away from the net. With his entire team cheering him on, Asahi attacks the wall one more time. This time his attack makes it through, but just barely, as the ball rolls along the top of the net and falls to Dateko’s side.

After the game the teams shake hands and there’s a long handshake between Hinata and Aone after everyone else has left the court. The 3 upperclassmen salute to their female counterparts in the stands and Ukai explains some of the details of the last shot to the team’s adviser and points out that this game should be a good boost for Asahi’s confidence. It’s also revealed that no one has figured out how Kageyama and Hinata are communicating with each other about which attacks to use. The boys mention to Tsukishima that Sugawara was the one who came up with the signals they were using. Meanwhile, Sugawara confides in Sawamura that he wishes he could’ve played in the game. Sawamura says that he’s glad that Sugawara still has the spirit to fight. Everyone on Karasuno’s side is feeling good. However, before they leave the court they are reminded that there are still strong teams to face when they see Aoba Jousai playing their first game.

Episode Rating: A

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