I have asked some people's opinion about their first impression of Haikyuu. And most of them have the same answers: they tend to underestimate the series since in real life, volleyball does not pique their interest. But after watching the whole series, boy how wrong could they be.
Haikyuu is packed with action, comedy, and comradery. It is your typical sports anime, but every element in it was well crafted. It is all thanks to the talented manga artist Haruichi Furudate for creating such an amazing story, and anime studio Production I.G for being able to depict the manga into a beautiful anime series.
Best Volleyball Players in Haikyuu
Of course the one aspect that fans loved about Haikyuu is the characters. And today we are going to discuss about 17 best volleyball players in Haikyuu. And you could tell already that this list is all about characters' skills and not based on personality and other things.
The thing about Haikyuu is that almost every play is pretty much realistic and if you have enough experience, you can actually do it in real life (except for the freak combo because it is almost impossible to move that fast and toss that accurately. This article might provide more elaboration about that minus tempo).
So these players' skills are pretty much on point even though they are all still in high school. And with that being said, let me state some rules and clarification before we actually jump into the list.
First thing first I am not going to follow statistics from the official books, because at this point in the anime it is a bit outdated. Our beloved players have evolved so much that they are now much better than they used to be. And secondly, I must inform you that since the Haikyuu manga has ended, they have improved more than you think. I am not going to spoil it here, and that is why we are having the current anime as our reference.
The process of elimination itself is not as easy as you think, since there are a lot of high quality players and the slots are only 17 (I could do more but the explanation would not be that deep). And as a Haikyuu fan, I trust my judgment and am able to pick the 17 best volleyball players in Haikyuu.
To give an insight on how I judge a player's ability, I will evaluate them based on their overall skills, and their capability on their own position. Some other factors would also be included if necessary. It will be as objective as possible.
And one last thing, some of the players' abilities have not been shown in the anime. But since they have made their appearance in anime, I would spoil it a bit because of how good they are. And with that, starting from number 16:
17. Tsukishima Kei
Number 17 is quite difficult to pick because it means that I need to eliminate literally other players. But in the end, for me Tsukishima fits to be number 17 because his capabilities excels most others.
Despite kind of lacking motivation (he is not, but he looks like it), Tsukishima has shown many times that he is an amazing and persistent blocker. His intelligence helps him a lot to analyze where the ball actually goes. That one block against Ushijima and how he eventually shut down Suna's quick are 2 prime examples.
To become a better player, Tsukishima will need to improve his serves and his digs. But knowing Tsukishima's personality, it would be difficult to persuade him to do so. Or is it?
16. Tendou Satori
Should Tendou get a higher position than this? Possibly. Since he already faced many talented spikers, he should have more experiences than many other characters, right? It is correct but in terms of skills, Tendou is pretty much average.
His main ability is of course the guess blocking. And in Tendou's case, he could guess it correctly almost every single time. As a guess blocker specialist, Tendou is someone who should be feared.
But ability ends there. His spikes, serves, and digs, are not special. This is possibly because we have rarely seen him do so. But I highly doubt he has that high specs just like many other characters here. Putting him as the number 16 is a right call.
15. Hinata Shouyou
To all Hinata fans out there, I promise you that I would love to put him higher on the list, but as it is right now (again, we are going to follow the anime instead of the manga), Hinata does not YET deserve to be placed higher than this. And I will explain why exactly.
Hinata has an amazing skill set, being able to run fast and has an incredible jumping power. His reflexes are also something that he should be proud of. And recently, he has developed new skills, being able to dig a ball and read the game.
However, it is still under development. It is far from perfect, and he definitely needs more practice and put his new knowledge on the field. His blocking skill also needs to be polished because as it is, he suits more as a spiker if he does not improve that (relax, I know what happens after “that”).
14. Yaku Morisuke
If Yaku is a spiker or blocker or setter, he would probably be placed higher on the list. Defenders on team sports usually do not get as many spotlights like the attackers do. In fact, they are considered as the antagonists since they will do their best to prevent the other teams from scoring. And that includes the Libero.
Yaku has an extraordinary ability as a Libero. He can read where the balls are going and digs it perfectly. So perfect that he can return the ball to the setter. Not too short, but not too short.
And sadly it all ends there because apart from that, Yaku has not shown his other skills such as spiking or blocking. But as a Libero, we can all agree that Yaku does his job beautifully and definitely needs more recognition.
13. Nishinoya Yuu
The exact same case happened to Karasuno's Guardian Deity. But one reason why he is placed higher than Yaku is because Nishinoya has proven many times that he is an integral part of Karasuno who cannot be replaced.
In terms of capabilities, Nishinoya is not that far from Yaku. Nishinoya however loves to try new things, like giving a toss after jumping from the backline or moving straight away so that spikers can do back attacks.
But again, this is because Nishinoya got more screen time than Yaku. Who knows, perhaps Yaku would love to do the same? Either way, Nishinoya and Yaku are all amazing Libero and you can swap their positions if you feel like one is better than another.
12. Kuroo Tetsurou
Nekoma's captain is actually a complete player. Kuroo can do serves, blocks, spikes, and even digs really well. But the main problem is that Kuroo is only able to do it “well”, while others can do it superbly.
And speaking of which, perhaps the one trait that he can do slightly better than others is being a captain (there are other captains here but for me Kuroo is the best. While other captains who are better than Kuroo have not managed into the list). Kuroo is the one in Nekoma besides Yaku to ensure that the team can follow their philosophy. He makes sure that his teammates stay focused. And outside of the field, Kuroo is a nice guy who loves to hangout with his friends and helps them with whatever they need.
Overall Kuroo is most definitely not the best volleyball player in Haikyuu. But he does his job as a captain rather well and Nekoma can become this strong because of Kuroo as their leader.
11. Suna Rintarou
Another motivation-less player, who is coincidentally a blocker, just like “that” blocker. But real talk, Suna's skill as a volleyball player is no joke.
We have seen his notorious “Suna Rintarou quick” that put a hole even in the hardest wall. That kind of reach shows how flexible his body is. Suna is also a skilled blocker, being able to read the ball really well. He sometimes (without even trying) gets into his opponent's mind, making it easier for him to block.
His other skills however, such as dig and serve is pretty much decent. His serve may throw the opponent's balance, but it is not something that powerful or dangerous when you get used to it. The 11th place resembles Suna pretty well. Pretty high but not so high that he needs to work harder.
10. Oikawa Tooru
Into the top 10, and our beloved Grand King has of course made it into the list. He is placed right here because there are many other monsters who are perhaps better than him. And if we are being honest, Oikawa has not managed to go to nationals because of Ushijima (not blaming Ushijima here. It is what it is).
As a setter, Oikawa can literally do it all. His toss may not be as pinpoint as other setters on the list, but Oikawa knows his teammates so well that he can provide them with the best toss possible.
His serves, digs, and blocks are also really good. And honestly there is not much to critique about Oikawa. It is just unfortunate that he is the kind of player who peaked at an early age. But knowing Oikawa, he probably does not care and keeps pushing himself beyond the limit, and fans love him about it.
9. Miya Osamu
When Osamu appears on the list, you know his twin will also soon appear. But let us talk about Osamu first, because he is actually as good as his twin, and only lacking in one aspect.
When Osamu was first introduced in the manga and anime, it is said that if Atsumu is being down, Osamu will back him up. And it is true. Osamu can do what Atsumu does. As a spiker, he is also one of the most reliable point getters in Inarizaki.
However, Osamu said it himself that his love for volleyball is not as much as Atsumu. Perhaps this is the main reason why I put Osamu below Atsumu. But nevertheless, we have seen his ability during the Inarizaki vs Karasuno match and that alone should be enough that Osamu is definitely on par with his other half.
8. Kageyama Tobio
Being considered as a genius setter at a very young age, Kageyama still has a lot to learn. Not in terms of volleyball skills, since he will eventually improve over time just like others.
What Kageyama still lacks is his social skills. It might sound ridiculous but that one aspect is the one that brings you closer with your teammates.
It is understandable since he is an awkward guy and still kind of afraid of his past. But if he can overcome that, slowly being able to trust his teammates, Kageyama would be unstoppable. Apart from that, his serves, digs, spikes, and even blocks, are all top notch and even the opponents know how dangerous Kageyama is.
7. Miya Atsumu
Between Kageyama and Atsumu, the differences between their capacity as a setter is absurdly thin. But as it is right now, Atsumu is slightly better than Kageyama because of 2 main factors: experience and confidence.
Experience factor is pretty self explanatory, since he had participated in more tournaments than Kageyama. But here, Atsumu is always confident that he can give his teammates the best toss possible. Kageyama currently does not have this strength yet and I have explained why.
Apart from that, Atsumu can do whatever Kageyama can do. He is also capable of doing 2 kinds of serves and putting his opponents off balance. It is a minor advantage, and for me personally, is not the main reason why Atsumu placed higher than Kageyama.
6. Hoshiumi Korai
We all have seen a tiny fraction of Hoshiumi's skills as a volleyball player. And yes, I did say a tiny fraction because Hoshiumi's capabilities are even better than you thought (unless of course you are a manga reader).
Hoshiumi is by far the most versatile player on the list. He is positioned as a spiker, but he can block just like a blocker, dig like Libero, and the most important aspect that I have not mentioned when it comes to spiker, he can actually give a toss just like a setter.
The reason why he is placed number 6 is simply because the top 5 are better than him. Even some of them are unable to do what Hoshiumi can do. Hoshiumi is a great player and you have to see by yourself his true skills.
5. Bokuto Koutarou
Hey hey hey! Look who is number 5! This owl haired guy is among one of the best volleyball players in Haikyuu. More specifically, he is among the top 5 aces in Japan (that fictional Japan, not the real one, duh).
Bokuto's strength lies in his power and his ability to find a tiny gap between the blockers, and push it through. His cut shot or straight shot are equally good, making him able to use any kind of shot depending on the situation. He can also think quickly to solve his mess, making him sort of an eccentric player.
His weakness however, as you may know, is his temperament. Bokuto is extremely moody and needs total support from his teammates. He often put them in difficult places because of his mood swings. But once it was cleared, then we will have one of the greatest spiker who can face even better opponents than him.
4. Ojiro Aran
The twin's childhood friend is considered to be the top 4 ace in Japan, just above Bokuto. Some of you might ask how Aran could be better than Bokuto? Let me explain promptly.
In terms of play style, Aran is actually pretty much basic. He can serve, dig, and most importantly, spike. Unlike the explosive Bokuto, Aran plays quite monotonously and straightforwardly. But because of that, he can utilize his skills better than Bokuto without wasting a lot of “unimportant” movement.
Aran also has a slightly better mental fortitude than Bokuto (which is why some people called him boring). In conclusion, Aran is a skillful, well rounded player, and certainly among the best volleyball player in Haikyuu
3. Kiryu Wakatsu
The top 3 ace whom we have not seen his play style. But some people did guess his characteristics by judging his designs and posture. And they are actually right about it.
(Spoilers for those who literally have no idea on who he is) In the series, Wakatsu is actually said to be a better spiker than Ushijima, because he has more power than him and can defend better than him. Wakatsu can even maximize every toss he gets regardless of how good or bad the toss is. So, why is Wakatsu placed third on the list?
And the answer is, mentality. Ushijima is known for his iron heart. Whereas Wakatsu could not handle the mental pressure to be the best. In sports, it is impossible for an athlete to be the best if they have a bad mentality, even though he has amazing skills. Which is why Ushijima is more recognized than Wakatsu. Despite that, Wakatsu is still among the best volleyball players in Haikyuu and he has slowly built his mentality to be better than ever.
2. Kiyoomi Sakusa
This clean freak has quickly stolen people's hearts because of that kind of personality. But we are not going to talk about that. Sakusa's volleyball ability is something that is beyond practice alone (again, spoiler alert for Sakusa's skills).
What makes Sakusa so dangerous as a spiker is because of his flexible wrists. Those are able to put a spin when he spikes or serves, making the ball difficult to dig. When you think you got it, chances are you do not actually get it.
Sakusa is also really talented at digging. His defence is arguably as good as a Libero. Even though his raw power is not as much as our number one and Wakatsu, his high specs make him as good, or even better at some aspects, hence chosen as the top 3 ace.
1. Ushijima Wakatoshi
Big daddy Ushijima is currently the best volleyball player in Haikyuu. Well, if he is not, there is no way he could become a top 3 ace in Japan. So, what makes him a tad bit better than the other aces?
Believe it or not, Ushijima is the most well rounded volleyball player in the series. He has almost everything except for speed. And he compensates that with his brutal strength. His strength is arguably his best selling point. Ushijima can consistently put a powerful spike and serve throughout the match. It is even scarier when you realize that he also has monstrous stamina.
Ushijima can also do a receive well, even though it is rarely shown because teammates need him to focus on attacking hence taking the serves and spikes and preparing the ball for him. Ushijima is a beast and no fans can disagree with that fact.