Haruka and Kanata have been practicing their beach volleyball, and now the time has come to see if their effort will pay off. The fifth episode sees the pair entering a tournament, and their first opponents are a pair of familiar faces.
Haruka and Kanata check the tournament bracket at the beginning of this episode, and discover that their first opponents are none other than Ai Tanahara and Mai Sunagawa – the pair who got the swimsuits Haruka wanted in the previous episode. Haruka has no intention of forgiving them for that, at all. Fortunately, Kanata is more level-headed, which eventually leads to Haruka begrudgingly shaking hands with her opponent.
Haruka and Kanata talk briefly about their strategy for the match before it begins. When it does, Haruka is very keen to show how her blocking training has paid off. Unfortunately, she doesn’t get the chance straight away.
Spiking is not their opponents’ strong suit, so Harukana end up gaining a point when the volleyball is smashed straight into the net. Haruka also realises that the timing for blocking her opponents is different from what she is used to.
Kanata has a plan in mind, though, and she decides to go with that. Kanata knows that Ai and Mai are indoor players, so she believes that playing their own way will be enough.
As the match goes on, both sides end up making mistakes. Harukana maintains their lead, but Ai and Mai aren’t too far behind them. Especially after they get used to Kanata’s pokeys.
During the match, we get a flashback to when Ai and Mai started playing volleyball together. Ai thought getting invited into the volleyball club was a joke, but Mai told her that volleyball is a sport where you defeat tall people.
In the present day, Mai is keen to win the match for the sake of Ai.
Mai cottons on to Kanata’s plan, and tells her that she will pick up every one of her feints because she is a libero. She will do so until Kanata breaks.
After that, Harukana manage to take the first set. With a break between the two sets, we take a moment to check in on Emily and Claire.
Emily and Claire have no problem winning their first round. After their match, they go to watch Haruka and Kanata. As they observe, they notice that Kanata’s pokeys are really easy to pick up due to how long the ball stays in the air.
For some reason, though, Kanata persists in using pokeys. This results in Harukana trailing behind in the second set.
This is where the episode ends, so we’ll have to wait until next time to see just what is going on with Kanata.
So with this episode, we get our first proper match of beach volleyball – and I have to say, it definitely kept me invested. Both teams made a couple of mistakes here and there, but both seem to have roughly similar levels of skill.
As such, I feel like it isn’t immediately obvious who will win – or, maybe it will be better to think of it as Haruka and Kanata having to work very hard to claim their inevitable victory. It is the first round of a tournament and they are the main characters, after all.
Then you had the Éclair match, which was presumably one-sided. I like that we got to see a bit of it, but I don’t think the entire thing would have been as interesting to watch as the Harukana match. I reckon it got just the right amount of focus – we know that the Éclair duo are advancing through the tournament, and that they are very good at beach volleyball.
A good episode. I look forward to seeing the conclusion of this match.